Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Lately, Jack and I have been spending a lot of time with my family in Chicago. One thing my husband especially loves about this area is the plethora of meaty things between bread. People always ask me “is your husband vegetarian?” The answer is… nope, he’s not. He eats what he wants even though the food I cook at home is primarily plant-y. I call him an everything-eater. He loves a Chicago Italian beef sandwich just as much as he loves a macrobiotic meal… as long as you keep olives out of his food, he’s the least picky eater I know.

He’s also really honest with me. I tend to shy away from the “fake meat” types of things, but when I do make something that is inspired by a meat dish, he’s the first to tell me if it’s great or if I’ve missed the mark. Well, I fed these subs to him and my family last night, and not only did Jack wolf his down with approval, in a surprise move, my dad was the first to ask if there was any extra.

This recipe is a riff on the Eggplant Mushroom & “Meatball” recipe from our cookbook that we both love. I messed with it a bit, replacing the out-of-season eggplant with black beans, switching up the spices, and of course putting them between bread. I think even your pickiest eater will love this one, because even the mushroom flavor isn’t very pronounced after you smother these with marinara sauce.

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

The meatballs are not difficult to make but they do take a little bit of time. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, mushrooms in the pan and then adding balsamic, tamari, and black beans. I use my non-stick non-chemical GreenPanthis super pretty set that I showed you last week – because I hate when mushrooms stick to the bottom of the pan and love knowing the surface they’re cooking on is completely toxic-free.”

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

The mushroom mixture gets pulsed in the food processor with walnuts and black beans. Then mix it in a bowl with brown rice and spices. Finally, use panko to form them into balls. This is what they look like before you bake them – they will brown nicely in the oven. If you want to make these in advance (say, for your Memorial Day gatherings this week) store the uncooked meatballs in the fridge overnight and bake them when you’re ready to eat. They firm up a bit in the fridge so this is a terrific make-ahead meal.

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Once baked, heat up marinara sauce, add the meatballs, and then assemble them in buns with basil and (optionally) grated parmesan cheese. Note: this recipe is best when served in soft buns or baguette – nothing too crusty; these little veggie balls are more smush-able than a regular meaty meatball.

Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

Also, since so many of you asked about the cookware that I used last week, GreenPan is offering 20% off the Padova 10-pc cookware set, in both available colors: grey & light blue. Use the code LOVEANDLEMONS20 at checkout. They also offer free shipping for orders over $50. This offer expires May 31st and cannot be combined with other offers.


5.0 from 2 reviews
Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs
 
Serves: serves 6
Ingredients
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • ½ yellow onion (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, de-stemmed, chopped
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1½ cups cooked brown rice
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 6 soft sub buns or sliced soft baguette
  • 2 cups jarred or homemade marinara sauce
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Several handfuls of arugula, optional
  • Parmesan cheese, optional
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat ½ teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, pinches of salt and pepper, and cook until browned and soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add ½ cup of the black beans, the balsamic vinegar and tamari sauce, and cook for 2 minutes or until everything is well browned and soft. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool slightly.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts. Add the mushroom mixture and pulse 2 to 3 times until just combined. Do not puree or the mixture will be too mushy. Add the remaining ½ cup of black beans and pulse briefly. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the brown rice, chili powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the panko breadcrumbs onto a plate. Form the mixture into 18-1½ inch balls and gently roll in the crumbs, using the breadcrumbs to pat the mixture into cohesive balls. Place on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes or overnight.
  4. Drizzle generously with olive oil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, carefully flipping halfway through.
  5. Heat the marinara sauce in a skillet and add the meatballs. Heat until just warmed through and serve immediately on the buns with arugula, basil, and parmesan cheese, if desired. (Tip: don’t let the meatballs sit in the sauce for too long or they will start to fall apart).

 

Special thanks to GreenPan for sponsoring this post!


If you make this, let us see! Tag your photo with #loveandlemons on Instagram.

24 comments

  1. Pingback: Vegetarian Mushroom Meatball Subs

  2. These mushroom sandy’s sound SO satisfying and hearty. I love how simple the meatballs sound, packed with flavour. Next time I need meatballs, these babies are going in!

  3. Natalie from workovereasy.com on said:

    How did you know I’ve been craving meatballs, I’m all about spaghetti and meatballs and now I can share with my veggie bf! Thank you!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  4. Leah on said:

    These look delicious? Would it be possible to sub something different for the walnuts?

  5. Your meatballs in the book are still on my list to make, so now I have to decide which version I’m going to make! Sounds like you hit the mark perfectly getting glowing reviews from family.

  6. Daniel Andrei from andreidaniel.com on said:

    I’m so stupid! I’m very hungry and I’m browsing your recipe blog! :)) this one looks amazing, I’ll try it today!

    • Daniel Andrei from andreidaniel.com on said:

      I did make the recipe, to be honest most of the work whas done by my lovely wife, but I have to say, I helped a little in the end. :))

  7. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com on said:

    sounds like this passed the taste test for a veg meatball! that’s exciting since a lot of the meatless substitutes just don’t work and might as well just be what they are instead of trying to mask themselves as meat! So am intrigued by this one, thank you!

  8. caren yeo from vegetarianworldfoods.com on said:

    great! both my sons are vegetarian!!!! so gonna try this

  9. hotmail outlook from hotmailloginproblem.com on said:

    because I hate when mushrooms stick to the bottom of the pan and love knowing the surface they’re cooking on is completely toxic-free.” <3

  10. Caitlin on said:

    Can I use soy sauce instead of tamari?

      • Caitlin on said:

        Okay great! I am definitely making these soon! Thank you for sharing the recipe 🙂

  11. Jen @ sweetgreenkitchen.com on said:

    I’m so excited to try this recipe. Meatballs are the one meaty food I missed the most when I became vegetarian over 20 years ago and I’ve been creating different veg meatballs for years. But I’ve recently decided to mostly cut out dairy and eggs and all my veg meatball recipes contain one or the other or both, so your recipe came at just the right time. My one other issue is with onions (my mouth loves them, but my digestive system hates them!), and almost every recipe starts with onions. Any suggestions on how to replace onions in a recipe like this?

    I also liked reading what you said about your husband, I can totally relate. My husband is a meat eater, but happy to eat whatever plant-y food I make, he’s the least picky eater I know, except don’t try to feed him cabbage (although I keep trying!).

  12. vivian on said:

    These were very good, and would be a great use for leftover brown rice. We had them for sandwich and cocktail night and they were a big hit. Thanks!

  13. Kacy from library.uonbi.ac.ke on said:

    I love meatballs, will try this for sure

  14. Katie on said:

    Has anyone tried freezing these meatballs after baking and before marinara-ing? Just wondering how they hold together. Looks amazing, and I’m envisioning a big batch in the freezer for impromptu meals!

    • Hi Katie, I haven’t tried – I’m not sure if they’ll fall apart upon thawing. I’ll report back next time I make them. If you give it a try, can you let me know?

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  18. Jan on said:

    When does the garlic go in?

    • after the black beans – just updated it, thanks for pointing that out!

  19. This is great, That’s a great website, it really is what I was looking for, thank you for sharing!

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