Like every good Italian girl, I appreciate a well-made meatball sandwich. There's just something about the combination of textures -- crispy French bread meeting cheesy, aromatic chopped meat -- that makes my taste buds very happy. But I'll be honest. Your typical meatball hero can get a little boring. There, I said it.
So I was over the moon to find a recipe that incorporates a few unorthodox ingredients and really kicks your meatball sandwich up a few notches. Chili powder? Check. Cinnamon? Yes, please. Allspice? Now we're talking.
This recipe, which comes from a blog called eat.travel.live, is incredibly interesting because it gives an exotic Lebanese twist to a traditional Italian-American lunch or dinner favorite. If you want to really go out on a limb and experiment with flavors, you can substitute lamb for beef. And, of course, you can always use Italian bread in place of French bread, though I prefer baguettes because they are crispier and less doughy. Buon appetito!
Spicy Meatball Sandwich
400g/14oz minced beef
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. olive oil
250g/90z tomato pasata
4 tbsp. sundried tomato paste
2 small French baguettes, cut down the middle lengthways
3 1/2 oz mozzarella cheese
1 handful of finely chopped parsley leaves
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Chuck the beef and all the spices into a mixing bowl. Add the oregano and a good pinch of salt. Mix everything together really well. Roll the beef into little meatballs. This should yield about 4 meatballs per person.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the beef meatballs, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes, or until golden. Turn the meatballs over and pour over the tomato pasata. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the beef is just cooked through and wonderfully juicy.
Spread the sundried tomato paste over one half of the open baguettes. Fill each one with 8 meatballs. Rip the mozzarella cheese over the top and place each sandwich onto a roasting tray. Pop them into the hot oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Scatter parsley over the meat and cheese. Cut the meatball sandwich into two and serve immediately.
Image via Corbis