This vegan meatball sub sandwich is super hearty, super flavourful and chock-full of veggies. Baked lentil and mushroom meatballs smothered in marinara sauce and served up in a crusty bun stuffed with spinach, onion and peppers. You might need a knife and fork to get these bad boys in your mouth!
There are a gazillion and one ways to make a vegan meatball, but I always make them the same way (boring, I know!): with lentils and mushroom. I came up with this mixture while attempting to create a vegan choripan burger with chimichurri sauce.
I used all the same spices and seasonings as in a regular chorizo sausage, but replaced the meat with lentils and mushrooms. It turned out super good and my husband declared it the best vegan burger recipe we’d tried to date. Ever since then it’s been my go-to recipe for anything patty, burger or meatball-like.
In fact I’ve used the same meatball recipe in my vegan meatball banh mi sandwiches, the only difference being the garnishes: pickled carrot and radish, fresh cucumber and cilantro, and an ah-mazing aquafaba-based sriracha mayonnaise.
For this vegan meatball sub I’ve replaced the garnishes with a little simple wilted spinach and sautéed onions and peppers. Easy peasy! Let’s not forget the marinara sauce, because it wouldn’t be a meatball sub if they weren’t drowning in tomato sauce!
Let’s be real, making meatballs takes a bit of time so I went out and bought a jar of marinara sauce for this recipe. But you can certainly save money by making your own. And if you’ve got a killer marinara sauce recipe, let me know in the comments below, I don’t have one yet!
Depending on how big you roll your meatballs, this vegan meatball sub recipe will make you a good five or six sandwiches so they’re great to take on a picnic and share with all your friends! If not you can easily half the recipe or freeze the leftover vegan meatballs for another day.
For the vegan meatballs
- 1 1/2 cups (175 grams) cooked lentils
- 1 tablespoon water or oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- Half a green pepper, diced
- 12 button mushrooms, diced
- 2 tablespoons red wine
- 3/4 cup (250 grams) breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) crushed walnuts
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes or chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For everything else
- A few tablespoons of water or oil for sautéing
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Half a green pepper, sliced
- Half a red pepper, sliced
- A big bag (300 grams / 10.5 ounces) fresh spinach
- A jar of your favorite marinara sauce
- 5 or 6 sub buns (depends how big they are)
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and brush with a tiny bit of oil.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add a splash of water or a tablespoon of oil and sautee the onion, garlic and green pepper until soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and fry until soft and brown. Add in the red wine and simmer for a minute to evaporate the alcohol. While the vegetables are frying, puree the lentils in a food processor and transfer to a large bowl.
- When the vegetables are soft, transfer to the food processor and pulse a couple of times. Don’t puree them completely; you want to keep a bit of texture. Add the veggies to bowl with the lentils along with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well.
- Roll your meatballs using about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of the mixture for each ball. Place them on the lined baking sheet and bake until browned – about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile prepare the veggies. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add a couple tablespoons of water or oil. Sautee the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent. Add the balsamic and salt and stir well. Remove the onions to a plate.
- Add a couple more tablespoons of water to the pan if necessary and add the peppers. Sautee until soft and remove to the plate with the onions.
- Add the spinach to the pan and cover until the spinach is wilted. Remove to a plate.
- Finally, once the meatballs are baked, pour the marinara sauce into the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the meatballs to the sauce and gently stir to coat them well.
- Place some spinach and peppers into each bun, add the vegan meatballs and top with onions.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1 sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 804 Total Fat: 25g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 1mg Sodium: 1845mg Carbohydrates: 118g Fiber: 15g Sugar: 15g Protein: 31g