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Eric Akis: Chimichurri elevates meatball sub with tangy herbaceous taste

Argentinean-style sauce is made with parsley, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and seasonings
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A meatball sub is tastily topped with chimichurri sauce, tomato and goat cheese. ERIC AKIS

Chimichurri is an Argentinean-style, tangy, herbaceous sauce that can boldly lift the flavour of foods you adorn with it. It’s often served with grilled meats, but in today’s recipe I switched things up and used it as a robust condiment for a meatball sub sandwich.

To make the chimichurri, in a food processor, you chop and combine parsley, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and seasonings until a vibrant-green sauce is created. If you don’t have a food processor, you could chop the ingredients that need chopping by hand.

To make the sandwiches, you make and roast some beef meatballs and stuff them into buns spread with mayonaise and filled with sald greens. You then top the meatballs with chimichurri, cubed tomato and nuggets of goat cheese, creating a hearty, filling, tasty sandwich that will make a meal all on its own.

Meatball Sub Sandwiches with Chimichurri

Beef meatballs, roasted, stuffed in buns and richly adorned with bright-green, herbaceous, tangy, Argentinean-style chimichurri sauce.

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes

Makes: four servings

3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 cup packed Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp salt (divided)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/2 tsp dried oregano

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed

1 1/4 lbs (about 560 grams) lean ground beef

1 large egg

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

3 Tbsp milk

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

4 sub, large hot dog, Calabrese or other oblong bun, split and warmed (see Note)

• mayonnaise, to taste

• salad greens, to taste

1 medium, ripe, on-the-vine tomato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

50 grams soft goat cheese, pulled into small nuggets, or to taste

To make chimichurri, place garlic, parsley, cilantro, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (see Eric’s options). Now pour in the 1/2 cup olive oil and pulse to combine. Add a bit more oil if you find the chimichurri too thick. Transfer chimichurri to a jar, seal and refrigerate until needed. It will keep several days in the refrigerator.

To make meatballs, place beef, egg, breadcrumbs, milk, chili powder, cumin, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Moisten your hands lightly with cold water. Now roll meat mixture into 16, about 2-inch wide balls and set them on the baking sheet. Roast meatballs 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Spread the inside of each bun lightly with mayonnaise. Set some salad greens in each bun. Stuff four meatballs in each bun, top with chimichurri, tomato and goat cheese, and serve.

Note: You can warm the buns by setting them in the oven for a few minutes after the meatballs are cooked.

Eric’s options: If you don’t have a food processor, you could finely chop the garlic, parsley and cilantro on a board. Now set them in a bowl and finish the chimichurri by mixing in the vinegar, salt, pepper flakes, oregano, pepper and oil.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.