Meatless Monday: Cauliflower-quinoa ‘meatballs’ make a hearty sub filling

You might not even notice that this hearty sandwich is meatless. Spoiler: These “meatballs” are made of cauliflower and quinoa.

For as filling as this sandwich is, it’s hard to believe it’s not made with meat. What I like most about these meatballs is the crispy, crunchy outside with the hint of grilled onion taste that comes from browning the meatballs.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

The sauce for this sandwich couldn’t be any easier to make — just mix up the ingredients in a bowl, and add it to the meatball sandwich.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

And then there’s the cheese. Melted cheese is a must-have on a meatball sub, even if the sandwich is meatless. Also, those little crunchies that fall off the meatballs are up for grabs, so make sure to get some for yourself before they disappear.

Image: Nancy Foster/SheKnows

Cheesy cauliflower and quinoa meatball sandwich recipe

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes


For the cauliflower-quinoa meatballs

  • 2 cups cauliflower rice (cauliflower florets ground in a food processor)
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 2/3 cup dry)
  • 3 tablespoons diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (or more, depending on the skillet size)

For the meatball sauce and sandwich

  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 dashes salt (or to taste)
  • 4 dashes ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 16 cauliflower and quinoa meatballs
  • 2-1/2 cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 small- to medium-size French rolls


For the cauliflower-quinoa meatballs

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. On a cookie sheet, lay out the cauliflower rice evenly, and bake until the cauliflower is tender (about 5 minutes). Keep the oven on to use for the sandwich.
  3. To a large bowl, add the cauliflower rice, cooked quinoa, onion, bell pepper, breadcrumbs, coconut oil, onion powder, oregano, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.
  4. Mix all the ingredients until incorporated, and roll into 16 meatballs.
  5. Heat a large Teflon or nonstick skillet on medium heat, and add the canola oil. In batches if necessary, gently add the meatballs to the skillet. When the bottom sides of the meatballs are lightly browned, very gently turn them over.
  6. Once the opposite sides are lightly browned, very gently turn them over to one of the uncooked sides. Repeat for the remaining sides.
  7. Transfer the meatballs to a wire rack to cool while making the sauce.

For the meatball sauce and sandwich

  1. To a medium-size bowl, add the tomato sauce, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir together, and drizzle on the insides of the French rolls.
  2. Set 4 meatballs in each French roll.
  3. Top with the remaining sauce, and then top with mozzarella cheese.
  4. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts. Serve while hot.
meatless monday
Image: SheKnows

More meatless recipes

Penne with pesto, potatoes and peas
Avocado and black bean enchiladas
Grilled eggplant marinara sandwiches


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