If this isn’t a way to change up the work and school week, I don’t know what is! I recently made these turkey meatballs in the morning to prep ahead for dinner, and, well… let’s say they just didn’t make it that far. We were on day #527 of the pandemic, or something like that, and it was a Wednesday, and it just felt like these dinner meatballs were destined for some garlicky, cheesy, meatball sandwiches for lunch at home.
During normal pre-COVID, pre-sheltering in place times, Wednesday was always the day I’d change up the breakfast or lunch routine for my family. A hot breakfast of waffles and bacon or a special school lunch delivery by mom was just what my crew often needed to get through the school or work week. Being home the past 8+ months has been easier for our family of 5 by keeping some routines and normalcy intact as much as possible. Making sure I keep a Wednesday special breakfast or lunch routine seemed like an easy thing to do, even when I had to check in with Siri to ask what day it was.
For these sub sandwiches I was inspired by many of my favorite meatball recipes, but this is my favorite combination. I elevated the flavor by going all in- not just dried herbs, but fresh, too. Not just minced garlic, but also added garlic powder, which has a nice garlic flavor without the harshness garlic can sometimes have. Toasting the panko brought out a lot of flavor in otherwise bland tasting breadcrumbs. A little red pepper flake goes a long way, too.
Two notable changes with these meatballs – they are made with ground turkey thigh, not ground beef or a combination of meats. Dark turkey meat has SO much more flavor than lean turkey breast it isn’t even fair to compare the two. I do not ever buy lean ground turkey breast, as I cannot think of another food product that lacks flavor like ground turkey breast.
The other difference is – I don’t shallow-fry meatballs. I hate the mess on the stove and it’s just too easy with flavorful results to pop them on a rimmed baking, brush with a little olive oil and bake them in the oven. Splattering oil all over my stove happens only once in awhile in my house and it has to be worth it with no other possible ways to achieve such a lovely crust – potstickers, cast-iron seared steak/pork chop and corn fritters are a few notable ones worth the mess. Simply put, if it is just as tasty oven baked over fried, then that’s an easy choice for me.
These are delicious and will make you and your whole family smile. I hope you enjoy!
Baked Turkey Meatball Sub on Garlic Bread
These baked meatballs have so much flavor! Both fresh and dried herbs are used to give even more flavor to this dark turkey meat. They are a great meal with marinara sauce and grated parmesan, on top of cooked pasta or piled onto toasted garlic bread for the ultimate sub sandwich- a family favorite! This recipe makes enough for a tasty family dinner for 4 as well as delicious lunch leftovers the following day.
For the meatballs
- ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs, lightly toasted
- ½ cup finely chopped onion
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning Penzey's Pizza Seasoning is also a great option
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 lbs dark turkey thigh, ground
- olive oil spray or use olive oil and brush
For sub sandwiches
- dutch crunch rolls, split in half any sweet or Italian roll will do
- butter or olive oil
- garlic salt
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup jarred marinara sauce, warmed Rao's is an excellent brand
- chopped basil optional
- grated Parmesan optional
Preheat oven to 400° Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spray or brush with olive oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix vigorously for 20-30 seconds. The mixture will be soft and sticky.
Using an ice cream scoop (about 1½ tbsp), scoop about 26-28 meatballs. Place on the baking sheet and spray or brush the tops of the meatballs with olive oil. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place cut rolls on a baking sheet. Brush each side with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with garlic seasoning. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese on one side of each roll.
When meatballs are finished cooking, pull out of oven and let sit for a few minutes while you toast the rolls. Turn the oven to broil and place sheet tray of rolls on the upper rack, broiling just until the bread is golden and the cheese is bubbling.
Assemble subs by placing about 4 meatballs each on half of the rolls. Top with warmed marinara sauce and chopped basil and Parmesan cheese, if using. Top with other half of rolls and serve immediately.