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Playing Rach's Game Day Meatball Subs with Ricotta "Slather"

"This was inspired by a commercial for sub shops," laughs Rach. "I hate admitting that, but it's the truth!" Her sub contains spicy sausage and beef meatballs in tomato-basil sauce served on rolls slathered with seasoned ricotta. It is easy to make (the meatballs are baked, not fried) and is a fantastic combo, especially on game day. "Try getting that at the drive-through!" she says. 

For more amazing subs from Rach, check out her Football Hero Subs and Chicken, Pepper and Onion Subs


For the Ricotta Slather:
  • 2 cups fresh sheep's or cow's milk ricotta
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or pasted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Salt and red pepper, to taste
For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • One 14-ounce can Italian tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • One jar passata (3 cups)
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt
For the Meatballs:
  • About 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • Milk, to moisten (about ½ cup)
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork or, for extra-spicy, hot Italian sausage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 small white onion, grated
  • 1 cup grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen or seeds
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 6 sub rolls, toasted, to serve


Serves: 6


For the ricotta slather, combine the ingredients in a bowl. 

For the sauce, heat a large skillet with EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat.

12-Inch Premium RUST-RESISTANT™ Cast Iron Skillet

12-Inch Premium RUST-RESISTANT™ Cast Iron Skillet

Rachael Ray

Melt butter into oil, add garlic and stir a minute. Add tomatoes, hand-crushed with juice, stir in passata and add basil, then season with salt and simmer over low heat.   

For the meatballs, moisten the breadcrumbs with milk and soften.   

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Place meats in bowl and add the bread, wringing out the excess milk. Season with salt and pepper, then add egg, garlic, onion, cheese, parsley, oregano, fennel pollen or seeds and EVOO. Combine meatball mix and roll into about 1 ½-inch balls (think 5 per sub). Bake the meatballs until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes, then add to sauce. 

Slather the inside of rolls with ricotta and fill with meatballs. Garnish subs with basil.