Sneaky Meatball Subs

This is what happens when you leave me alone with my big, bubbling pot full of marinara.

Sure, I could just serve the sauce as is over some otherwise plain pasta and be done with it, but nooooo. That would be too easy. When you give me marinara, I’m going to want to make meatballs. When I make those meatballs, I’m going to want to have my way with a meatball sub.

I just realized that my life in the kitchen is kind of like the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. For those of you not fortunate enough to be familiar with this fine piece of literature…read it today. Timeless classic, I tell ya.

I could go off on a tangent about how I could really go for a cookie right now, but let’s stick to the task at hand and talk about these subs, shall we?


I have a thing for recipes that tell me to throw everything in a bowl. You can’t beat that…nor can you really mess that up. So, as directed, here are all of our ingredients getting to know each other. We’ll start from the bottom of the bowl and work our way up:

  • Ground Turkey – I always go for a package of 93% lean – a little fat equals a lot of flavor here.
  • Breadcrumbs – any kind you have on hand will do. I only had panko, which made me panic, but they worked out perfectly.
  • Parmesan – I can’t be sure there’s only 1/2 cup in there…because I like cheese…a lot.
  • Egg white – this acts as the glue that will eventually hold everything together.
  • Spices – salt and pepper are pretty standard, but basil, parsley and oregano add some classic Italian flavor and flare.
  • Garlic – because garlic is good.
  • Onion – this was supposed to be finely diced, but I didn’t really achieve that goal. Recommendation – throw your onion in the food processor. You’ll have this appliance out for the next ingredient anyway. Do as I say…not as I do 🙂
  • Shredded Carrots – this ingredient puts the “sneaky” in Sneaky Meatball Subs.

You guys shouldn’t be shocked – you know by now that I put zucchini in my turkey burgers. I’m obviously a huge advocate of adding veggies everywhere I can. Meat is pricier per pound over veggies, so if you can add some produce to produce (get it!?) more meatballs – you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck. Veggies also act as a good filler – in this case, they add moisture and sweetness – without adding any fat and a minimal amount of calories.

The lesson here? Get sneaky. It’s budget- and figure-friendly! No resolution wrecking here 🙂


Use your hands to combine everything that you put in your bowl – just be sure you wash your mitts before and after. Oh – and take off that sparkly new engagement ring if ya got one! Ground turkey doesn’t really add to the value if it’s embedded between diamonds.

Then, either use a cookie scoop or eyeball it to make meatballs that are all similar in size. I think the cookie scoop route is a little too laborious – it’s just something else to clean – so I just guesstimate. I also line a cookie sheet with foil for easy clean up. Lazy? Maybe. Smart? For sure.

Coat your foil with cooking spray, line your little meatball soldiers up and pop ’em in a hot oven.


They come out looking a whole lot more appetizing than when they went in. You can barely see the carrots, too! Give me just a sec…we’re about to completely camouflage those small orange specs.


Play matchmaker and introduce those meatballs to your marinara. Good job, Cupid!


These two were meant to be – when they marry to make a sub – it’s oh-my-gosh good.

Sneaky Meatball Subs

adapted from Cooking Light
Yield: 30 Meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time:
15-30 minutes

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs (whole wheat or panko will work fine)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup coarsely shredded carrot
a couple leaves fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg white
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Cooking spray

1 recipe Marina Made Easy
10 Whole Wheat Sub Rolls
Parmesan, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine all ingredients except cooking spray in a bowl; stir well. Shape mixture into 30 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until done.

Transfer meatballs into a pot of simmering marinara made easy and let them hang out until you’re ready to eat. To serve, place three meatballs in each whole wheat sub roll and top with a sprinkle of extra parmesan. Meatballs could also be served over spaghetti if you prefer!


Sneaky Meatball Subs…the perfect meal to trick your kids, significant other or any other veggiephobe.

Heck, this sandwich is so good don’t be surprised when you forget how healthy it is!


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