Take out Tuesday, Meatball Sub Casserole

I have wanted to try this recipe for a long time. Hungry Husband LOVES meatballs and meatball sandwiches.  The last time he had a meatball sandwich was in the car driving home from the beach…think about that a minute…driving on the interstate trying to eat a submarine sandwich that is dripping with Marinara…sometimes he really doesn’t think through his choices…Anyway since I banned meatball sandwiches from the car after that I wanted to surprise him with this dish that would have all the taste and none of the mess!  I’m going to make extra sauce and meatballs to send over to HHjr and his family.  They can eat now or freeze for later.

This is a great make ahead meal and it starts with your favorite Marinara Sauce.

No, I don’t make my sauce from scratch, I just doctor jarred sauce up a bit…I had a semi hang-up about this until recently when I read a post on Pioneer Woman’s blog and she admitted she adds a jar of Marinara to her homemade sauce to boost it up a little…and she said Ina Garten [the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network] does it too!  So, I’m in good company here, and I have no more guilt.  I love to cook but I am all about time saving short cuts.

I put the Marinara Sauce into the crockpot with some seasonings, garlic powder & Italian seasoning.  I also add a dash of sugar, my Mom always did this, it cuts the acidity of all that tomato.  Sometimes I add a chopped onion or peppers, carrots or other veggies and/or some browned beef or sausage.  I’m not adding meat today since the sauce is going over meatballs.  I let the sauce simmer in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours.

For the meatballs I used equal amounts of ground beef and Italian sausage, an egg, panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and not pictured here, chopped onion, milk, Italian seasoning, S & P, garlic powder.

Mix it all together in a bowl,  and get out your super handy medium baking scooper–what, you don’t have one? Ok, use a spoon then or your hands, but consider getting one or two of these handy dandy scoopers, I use them for everything from appetizers to cupcakes and cookies.  They are available everywhere, BBB, Target, Publix, Pampered Chef.

Place your meatballs on a rack, sprayed with cooking oil, over a foil lined baking sheet

and bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

To prepare the base of the casserole dish you need some french bread or rolls, mayo, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and some garlic seasoning or garlic powder

Slice bread into thick slices [or in this case I sliced the rolls in 1/2] and place the bread in a prepared baking dish, covering the bottom of the dish.

Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and garlic seasoning. [Use garlic powder, S & P if you wish]  Spread this on the bread slices in casserole, and top with some grated cheese

Spread a little of the cream cheese garlic spread and sprinkle Parmesan on some additional bread slices to toast and serve along side casserole.

the meatballs are done!

Arrange some meatballs on top of prepared bread in casserole

and top with Marinara sauce

and of course, CHEESE!

At this point I stuck the dish in the fridge until later.  I love to prepare dinner in advance so I can just pop it in the oven later.  Of course you can assemble it and give it away at this point to, and include baking instructions.  I wouldn’t let this dish sit too long in the fridge however, [like overnight] because the bread base might break down.  At dinner time, bring dish to room temperature and bake at 350 about 30 minutes until bubbly.

Serve with a little salad and some toasted bread…

and doesn’t it look just like a meatball sandwich!  This recipe made about 28 meatballs. Share or freeze the remaining meatballs and sauce for a later date. I use the Marinara jars to store extra sauce, just spoon it back in, leaving about 1 inch of space at top for expansion, label and freeze.

this recipe was on my Bucket List this month as Meatball Sub Casserole

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Here’s the recipe:

MEATBALL SUB CASSEROLE  for a printable version click here

meatballs:
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
12 oz mild Italian sausage
8 oz ground chuck
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp  garlic powder
S&P

Combine ingredients and shape into large meatballs, about 1” in diameter.  Place meatballs on a sprayed rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Makes 28 meatballs

Casserole
16-20 meatballs
3 cups Marinara Sauce*
4 bakery Italian or french rolls, or french bread loaf
4 oz cream cheese
2-4 oz Italian cheese blend with Parmesan, Mozzerella & Romano
2 oz mayo
dash of garlic bread spice mix [Johnny Garlic’s]

While meatballs are baking, prepare the bread.  Slice rolls in half or slice loaf into 8 1” thick slices.  Combine cream cheese with mayo and garlic spice mix. Spread  slices with cheese mixture and sprinkle Italian cheese blend shreds on top.  Arrange 1/2 slices into sprayed casserole dish.  Top slices with 4-5 meatballs and pour Marinara Sauce over all.   Top casserole with more Italian cheese blend and bake at 350 until bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Toast remaining bread slices and serve with the casserole.

* I like to enhance the flavor of store bought Marinara sauce by throwing it in the crockpot for 3-4 hours on low and adding some Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

I would love to hear from you!!

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