Black & Red Unmeatball Subs

BRMSFor some reason unknown my spicy unmeatball is surprisingly popular, especially on Pinterest. I didn’t think it was that great of a recipe to get as much attention as it has. The number of views  inspired me to create another variation and turn it into something more. So was born my soy-free, gluten-free, oil-free Black & Red Unmeatball Subs.

Growing up, my family ate at Subway often. There was one right down the street and it was a fresher healthier choice than Bill Miller BBQ, Long John Silver’s, or Whataburger. All of which were close and a great convenience. I’m not even going to mention McDonald’s, Popeye’s, Jack in the Box, or Wendy’s (before the health craze influenced a menu change). Whoops, I just did! Those were all my favorite fast food places. Yeah, I was pretty healthy. Just to give you an idea of the difference in nutrition here are the nutrition facts for what I would usually order at Subway, Bill Miller, and Whataburger:


Bill Miller


I am not a nutrition expert. I wish I could post nutrition facts about the food I prepare. I tried but couldn’t figure it out. I would like to think that my meatball sub is healthier than Subway’s but I can’t know that for sure.  This was just another attempt of mine to veganize a childhood memory. Not everything has to be healthy though so who cares? An indulgence, whether sweet or comforting, is fine once in a while. So do yourself a favor and stop fretting over one thing that will not diminish the importance of all your healthy choices.

This meal was a success in both areas of taste and nostalgia. It was delicious and made me feel like a kid again. The only thing missing was the black olives which was the single topping, besides cheese, I chose to put on my Subway Meatball Marinara.

Black & Red Unmeatball Subs

Note: Quinoa is cooked using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa and it yields 4 times the amount of dry quinoa measured. In order to make what you need for this recipe use 1/2 cup dry quinoa and 1 cup of water.

Makes 30 unmealballs, enough for 4 foot-long subs


  • 3 cups cooked black beans or 2- 15 ounce cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon water or broth
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan, bought or homemade + more for sprinkling
  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa, see note above
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups marinara, or more if you want it extra saucy
  • 4 10-12 inch french bread loaves
  • Daiya jack or mozzarella, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare a pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mash beans in a large mixing bowl, set aside.
  3. Place water in a small non-stick saucepan and add onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes. Add to bowl with beans.
  4. Add parmesan, quinoa, tomato paste, and seasonings to the bowl and mix everything together.
  5. Measure a rounded tablespoon of the mixture to form into balls and place on parchment.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they look brown and crispy.
  7. Meanwhile, heat marinara in the same small saucepan you used before.
  8. Take the bread and cut lengthwise but not all the way through, leave a hinge. If you are using Daiya take slices or shreds and place on the inside of the open loaf.
  9. Place open loaf in toaster oven, if you have one, at 375 degrees set to broil for 5 to 8 minutes. If you don’t have a toaster oven place loaves on another cookie sheet and stick in the oven with the balls for the last 10 minutes of the cooking time or until cheese has melted and bread is golden brown.
  10. Once everything is done assemble subs by placing balls inside the toasted loaf, spoon sauce over balls, and sprinkle with more parmesan if desired. Divide subs into smaller servings or enjoy as is.




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