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MEATBALL, PEPPER, Making a great sandwich is truly an art. There has to be a balance of fresh and cooked, warm and cold, crunchy and tender—and, in a perfect world, you get all these flavors and textures in each and every bite. Here, I top Eggplant and White Bean Meatballs with fresh basil; snappy and piquant pickled cherry peppers; caramelized onions and bell peppers; and melted, stringy provolone cheese. Is it art? Perhaps. Either way, it sure is good.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly
  • sliced
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sub rolls, halved lengthwise
  • 12 to 16 warm Eggplant and White Bean Meatballs or any
  • homemade vegetarian meatballs
  • ¾ cup favorite marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly
  • sliced crosswise into ribbons
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped pickled hot peppers, such as cherry
  • peppers or giardiniera (optional)
How to Make It
  1. 1. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position, place a rimmed sheet pan on top, and preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. 2. Toss the red onion and bell pepper with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the salt, and pepper in a large bowl and turn them out in an even layer onto the heated sheet pan. Roast, stirring after 8 minutes, until the onion and pepper begin to char around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes total. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the onion and pepper to a bowl (don’t wash the sheet pan—you will use it in Step 3).
  3. 3. Turn the broiler to high. Line the sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the sub rolls on top, cut side up. Brush the cut sides with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toast them under the broiler until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes (watch the bread closely as broiler intensities vary).
  4. 4. Remove the top halves from the sheet pan and arrange 3 or 4 meatballs over each bottom half. Lay some onions and peppers over the meatballs, dollop each sub half with 3 tablespoons marinara, sprinkle with basil, and cover each with 2 pieces of provolone cheese. Return the sheet pan to the oven and broil until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Place the pickled peppers (if using) on top of the melted cheese, put the sandwiches together, and serve.

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