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Crisp bell peppers, tangy red onions, fresh herbs, and sweet piquanté peppers take the classic meatball sub to a whole new refreshing level.

Close up of loaded meatball sub sandwiches on a serving platter.

Meatball subs definitely aren’t thought of as a summertime meal. They’re a cozy and heavy stick-to-your-ribs winter meal! But piling on a few cool and crunchy veggies completely changes the game. I have some pretty exciting and refreshing summer-inspired recipes to bring you this month. But this ‘wich happened on a whim last week and I wanted to share it with you.

Fresh buns are loaded with mozzarella cheese, saucy grass-fed beef meatballs, crisp bell peppers, tangy red onions, sweet piquanté peppers (Peppadew), and fresh herbs. I’m really into slicing my veggies super thin and stuffing them into the sandwich like a slaw. Another great way to prepare the veggies is to julienne, shred, or shave them. But if chunky, roughly chopped veggies is your thing, go for it.

And! If you want to lighten things up, sub-in these turkey meatballs :)

When it comes to the sauce, keep things simple by using your fave jarred sauce. Unless you’re feeling ambitious—then you could use that easy marinara from my turkey meatball recipe linked above, or this homemade marinara sauce.

Away from the table…

Save the food. I’ve voiced my concerns over food waste before. I hate to admit that recently, I’ve seen a lot of it—and I’ve been a part of it. The combination of having a newborn baby and having family stay with us for two weeks resulted in overdoing it with groceries and being too burnt out to use things up before they went bad. My last fridge cleanup left me feeling defeated. In an effort to get back into a good groove, I’ve starting reading up on storage and meal prep tips at Their storage encyclopedia is impressive! Check it out.

HelloFresh! Another thing that’s helped us with our desire to not waste food (and our low energy) has been meal services. HelloFresh, to be specific. This week was our first week giving it a go and it’s definitely going to become a regular thing around here for a while. It’s so nice to have *just* the right amount of ingredients for dinner and not have to worry about forgotten produce turning the crisper into a swamp. Not to mention, the meals are hella tasty. And convenient! Which is exactly what our lives need right now.

I hope your having a great weekend and enjoying the weather, wherever you are!

Close up of meatball subs.

Hand holding up loaded meatball sub.

If you try this recipe or create your own variation, let me know in the comments! I love connecting with you. Then snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme to be featured in our newsletter.

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Loaded Summer Meatball Sub {with Grass-Fed Beef}

Crisp bell peppers, tangy red onions, fresh herbs, and sweet piquanté peppers take the classic meatball sub to a whole new refreshing level.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Setting time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 2 people
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  • 1 lb ground chuck (80% lean), preferably grass-fed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp freshly chopped thyme, If you don't have fresh thyme, you can use dried thyme or dry Italian herbs
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2-3 cups your favorite pasta sauce, jarred or homemade, whatever you prefer!
  • 2 fresh submarine sandwich buns
  • 4 slices mozzarella or provolone cheese

Other ingredients.

  • 1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced (preferably sliced with a mandolin on the thinnest setting).
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced (preferably sliced with a mandolin on the thinnest setting).
  • 1/4 cup Piquanté peppers, sliced or roughly chopped, You could also use any other sweet, or even hot, peppers
  • Freshly chopped parsley or basil, for garnish


  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl. With clean hands, mix and fold the ingredients together until they're well blended. (Using your hands works much better than a spoon or spatula!)
  • Once blended, scoop up about 2 tablespoons worth of the meat mixture and roll it into a firm ball. Place it onto the parchment-covered baking sheet when done. Repeat until you get through all of the meat.
  • Place the meatballs in the fridge for at least 30 minutes; you can leave them in there for a few hours if you're working ahead of schedule.
  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or braiser over moderate heat. Carefully place the meatballs into the skillet one at a time. Cook the meatballs for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. When flipping the meatballs over, be gentle with them. Silicone tongs work really well. If the meatballs are sticking to the pan, let them cook for a little bit longer until they release. Don't force them or they'll fall apart.
  • Once the meatballs are lightly browned, add the pasta sauce to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Once the sauce is simmering, bring the temperature to low and simmer until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 145º F. When they do, remove them from the heat.
  • Slice into the sub sandwich buns 3/4 of the way, leaving the bottom of the buns intact. This will keep the ingredients nice and snug inside the buns, preventing everything from falling out when you bite into it.
  • Place two slices of cheese along the length of the inside of the buns. Scoop the meatballs and your desired amount of sauce into the buns, followed by your desired amount of bell peppers, onions, peppers, and fresh herbs.
  • Serve hot, in full length or cut into halves.
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