Meatless Meatball Subs


You won’t miss the meat in these savory eggplant meatballs with umami-filled mushrooms. Unlike a lot of veggie meatballs, these hold their shape and are incredibly versatile. They’re great here, in a sub with tomato sauce and some cheese, but if you have leftovers, add them to a grain bowl or serve them as the main attraction with a side of roasted vegetables or a side salad. They freeze well, too: doubling this recipe is highly recommended.

Eggplant-Mushroom Meatball Sub
Photo: Caitlin Bensel
Hands On Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
2 serves


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 small eggplant, unpeeled and chopped (2½ cups)

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided

  • 6 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced (2½ cups)

  • 1 shallot, chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

  • ½ cup cooked brown rice, at room temperature

  • ¼ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

  • 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 (6-inch) whole-wheat hoagie rolls, split and toasted

  • 1 cup Italian-style tomato sauce (homemade, jarred, or from 1 [14-ounce] can), divided

  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)

  • Fresh basil, torn for serving


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add eggplant and season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened and golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, shallot, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let mixture cool at least 5 minutes. Wipe skillet clean.

  2. Add rice, panko, flour, pepper, and remaining¾teaspoon salt to food processor. Pulse until mixture comes together, about 15 times. (Mixture will be sticky.) Form into 8 balls (about the size of golf balls).

  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. Preheat broiler with oven rack 8 inches from heat source. Place toasted rolls on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread ½ cup of the tomato sauce evenly inside rolls. Top with meatballs, remaining ½ cup tomato sauce, and cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and subs are warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Top with the torn basil.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

685 Calories
31g Fat
91g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Calories 685
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 31g 40%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Sodium 2479mg 108%
Total Carbohydrate 91g 33%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 21g

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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