Storage tip: You can prepare the meatballs up to 2 months in advance. After forming the raw meatballs, place them on a baking sheet or other pan and freeze thoroughly, about 2 hours. Transfer to an airtight container. Before using, defrost the meatballs in the refrigerator overnight.
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 2 Tbs. milk
- 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for frying
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 2 cups roasted tomato sauce, homemade or purchased
- 4 crusty rolls, each about 6 inches long, split lengthwise
- 6 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Prepare the meatballs
In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs and milk and let stand for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly and add to the bread crumb mixture. Add the egg, parsley, salt, pepper and ground beef to the bowl and mix gently with your hands. Form into 12 meatballs.
Cook the meatballs
In a large fry pan over medium heat, pour in olive oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Discard the oil and place the pan over medium-low heat. Pour the roasted tomato sauce into the pan, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the meatballs, cover and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes.
Make the sandwiches
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 450°F.
Place the open rolls, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Spread equal amounts of the sauce on the bottom half of each roll. Arrange 3 meatballs on each and top with equal amounts of the cheese. Bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plates, spoon the remaining sauce over the sandwich bottoms, add the top halves and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Make Ahead, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).