Meatball Subs and Bowtie Pasta

I had a severe blow to my cooking ego recently that had to do with baking bread from scratch. The first batch of ciabatta I baked was, in my eyes, great, so I decided to cook meatball sandwiches using the same ciabatta recipe. At first, there were questions about why ciabatta bread with a meatball sandwich. My answer was simple, I have the ingredients, and I know how to make it. From time to time, I will refer to recipes on the blog to make sure that the recipes are easy to follow. I went back to the post, A Prosciutto Sandwich for Comic-Con, and followed the directions for the ciabatta bread. 

A few things, I did leave the starter covered for more than 24 hours. It was more like 30 hours, and it was a hot day. Circumstances that I could not avoid led to me arriving at home later than expected. I also tried my recommendation for leaving the dough in the bowl and hand kneading it that way (I still don’t have a stand mixer). Whatever the changes, the dough did not have the same movement as before. It didn’t rise when baking the way it did previously, and it was almost like eating a meatball pita. (Still delicious!)

Maybe I am a tad overly dramatic but, I am sure or at least hopeful that you know what it is like to be so excited about a recipe just to have it turn out mediocre. The delicious meatballs were not able to show their true potential because of subpar ciabatta that my ego brought to the party. So let’s talk about those meatballs! 

As you have probably guessed by reading this blog, I am a fan of Rachel Ray. In an upcoming episode of the podcast on Italian food, I mention why I love Rachel Ray so much. She makes the kitchen and Italian cooking not as intimidating as it seems. The recipe for these meatballs includes a five-minute marinara sauce; I’ve heard of two-day marinara sauce recipes. Five-minutes is definitely something I can commit to on a Sunday afternoon, especially after the ciabatta fiasco.

To make everything in Rachel Ray’s recipe, you’ll need ground sirloin, an egg, an onion, eight cloves of garlic, Italian bread crumbs, crushed red pepper flakes, flat-leaf parsley, fresh basil, dried oregano, Worcestershire sauce, four medium potatoes, two cans crushed tomatoes, four sub rolls, grill seasoning, salt, pepper, and grated parmigano or romano cheese. We used mizithra cheese mainly because my husband and biggest taste tester eats it straight from the container. He loves it that much! You need one big can and one small can of the crushed tomatoes.

Ingredients for meatballs and sauce, an egg, an onion, eight cloves of garlic, Italian bread crumbs, crushed red pepper flakes, flat-leaf parsley, dried oregano, Worcestershire sauce, two cans crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and mizithra cheese.

This meatball recipe is simple to make; if you have kids, you could probably let them help as long as they wear gloves to handle the raw meat. They might like to roll out the little meatballs! The timing of the cooking is perfect. If you make the potato wedges, when you flip them, you put the meatballs in the oven, and while the meatballs are baking, you can make the sauce. The highlight of making these meatballs was that I was able to use fresh parsley from my garden! 

Fresh flat-leaf parsley from my garden.

If you are going to bake bread from scratch, ciabatta might not be the pairing; it doesn’t soak up the sauce as other bread does. The ciabatta just fell apart but, this wasn’t my best batch. We had leftover meatballs, so the next day, I made bowtie pasta. I love it when we get two meals out of one recipe! 

There wasn’t anything fancy about the pasta. I cooked it al dente and heated the leftover sauce with meatballs. I served the sauce on top of the pasta rather than combining it, which is my go-to with pasta.

Bowtie pasta with meatballs.

Overall, this recipe was a My Foodie Duty Test Kitchen win, but our batch of ciabatta was a fail. I ended up with 12 meatballs but, I think I was supposed to have 16 total. Hopefully, some of you are better bakers than I am, or you have the correct tools to knead the dough properly. Good luck! 

Until next time, happy eating! 

Meatball sub.

Rachel Ray’s Meatball Subs Recipe on Food Network 

Rachel Ray’s Meatball Recipe

Preheat oven to 450°

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 c Italian bread crumbs ( Rachel Ray says about 3 handfuls)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced or crushed, we grated ours)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c flat-leaf parsley leaves (chopped)
  • 1/4 c parmigiano or romano cheese (we used mizithra cheese)
  • coarse salt & black pepper (pinch of each)

If you like to skip to the recipes and don’t read the entire post, at least read the paragraph above the parsley photo for how to perfectly time the cooking. It will be worth it!


  • Place ground sirloin in a large mixing bowl
  • Lightly punch a well into the center of the sirloin
  • Fill well with egg, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper
  • Without over-mixing, combine meat ingredients until mixed together
  • Divide meatball mixture into 4 equal parts
  • Roll each part into 4 meatballs and place on nonstick baking sheet (evenly distributed) I lined my baking sheet with foil, I always use foil or parchment paper when using the oven
  • Place meatballs in oven and roast about 12 minutes

To test if meatballs are cooked: break a meatball open and make sure meat is cooked through.

Five Minute Marinara Recipe by Rachel Ray

  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed & chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBS flat-leaf parsley leaves chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

The following ingredients are specific to the meatball sub but were listed with the marinara sauce.

  • 4 semolina crusty sub rolls (with or without sesame seeds (or you can attempt to bake your own bread)
  • 2 1/2 c (10 oz bag) of shredded provolone or Italian cheese blend
  • Shredded basil (sweet) or shredded arugula (spicy leaves) for garnish (we used more parsley from the garden)


  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat
  • Add extra virgin olive oil and garlic to saucepan
  • When garlic starts to sizzle, add oregano, parsley, and crushed red pepper
  • Allow oil to infuse for about 30 seconds, stir in the tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper
  • Bring sauce to a bubble, reduce heat, and simmer until meatballs are removed from oven, then add the meatballs to the sauce
  • Place 4 meatballs in each sub, top with shredded cheese
  • Place subs under broiler to melt cheese
  • Top with shredded basil or arugula and serve with potato wedges

Potato Wedges

  • 4 medium white skinned potatoes (cut into 8 wedges, lengthwise)
  • extra virgin olive oil (to coat)
  • grill season blend or coarse salt & black pepper (we used all three)


  • Drizzle potatoes with generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Toss potatoes with seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper
  • Place potatoes on a nonstick baking sheet and roast 20 minutes or until just tender

Give the baking sheet a good shake or flip the wedges after 10 minutes to avoid sticking. This is a great time to put the meatballs in the oven!

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