Thursday, September 8

Memories of School Lunch Sandwiches and a Give-Away!

First Day of School...

You know how I made it through sophomore geometry? My mom's meatball sandwiches.

I dreaded geometry. Measures, angles, slopes, points. Coordinates? I thought they were clothes. It didn't help that my class was right before lunch, last lunch, actually, so I never knew if it was the geometry or the hypoglycemia that was causing my sweaty palms and headaches.

Nothing made me feel better than pulling my sandwich out of its paper bag. I'd take a whiff, know instantly it was a meatball sandwich, and give praise for Italian mothers. Then I'd carefully open the crinkly aluminum foil and discover three of my mom's homemade meatballs snuggled lovingly inside of a chewy Italian roll and doused with just the right amount of red gravy. It was as close to Nirvana as I would get, at least until I read Siddhartha.

Thanks to Mom I passed geometry and learned how to make a killer meatball sandwich, so killer that I included it in my book, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.


So, dear readers, I'd love for you to share your story of your favorite childhood school lunch sandwich in the comment section below. And to celebrate school lunch sandwiches everywhere, I'm giving away three copies of The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches!

Leave your comment anytime through the end of the day, Wednesday, September 14th, and I'll announce the winners on Thursday, September 15th. Good luck!



Meatball Sub
Yield: 8 sandwiches with 3 meatballs per sandwich
Printable recipe.

Tomato Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil

2 shallots, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Meatballs:
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup olive oil

1/8 cup canola oil

24 cooked meatballs (below)
8 crusty Italian rolls, split lengthwise
16 slices (about 1 pound) mozzarella or sharp provolone cheese

1. Warm oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent. Stir in tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low. Let sauce lightly bubble for 15 to 17 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Turn off heat. Stir in the fresh herbs.

2. Place meats in a large bowl with breadcrumbs, cheese and parsley. In a small bowl, beat the egg with salt and pepper; add to the meat mixture. Mix the ingredients with your hands until everything is moist and the meat holds together. If it's too dry, add a bit of water or another beaten egg. If it's too moist, add more breadcrumbs. Once the consistency is right, use your hands to roll mixture into 1-1/2-inch balls.

3. Place oils in a large skillet over medium heat. Fit as many meatballs in the skillet as possible without overcrowding. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until browned; turn and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until all sides are evenly browned. Place on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

4. Add meatballs to sauce and warm over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Preheat broiler. One at a time, add 3 meatballs to a roll. Top with sauce and 2 cheese slices. Place on a large baking sheet and repeat with remaining sandwiches. Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly and bread is golden. Eat them while they're hot.

Note: Meatballs can also be baked. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Shape as above and place them on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up). Cook for 20 minutes, or until browned.

Variations: Substitute cooked Italian sausage for the meatballs to create a sausage sub.
If you can’t decide, then add sausage to the meatballs for meatball and sausage sub.

Here are more delicious sandwiches from my book that you might enjoy:
Banana Split Sandwich
Egg Salad Sandwich
Pork Tenderloin
Mexican Torta
Monte Cristo

Photo credits: 1. FFC, Colanda; 2 and 3 Matt Armendariz

68 comments:

EJacks said...

I don't have a great sandwich like your meatball sandwich. School lunches for us were typically along the lines of ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, with the occasional peanut butter and banana! :)

April said...

Fluffernutter sandwiches. Peanut butter and marshmallow fluff. Delish. Otherwise, I'm not much of a "cold sandwich" type person. Those meatball subs look amazing though!

Kate @ Savour Fare said...

My weirdest favorite sandwich was a spell during fifth grade when I only wanted to eat cold hot dog and dill pickle sandwiches every day. On wheat bread. With mayo.

Paige @ The Crunchy Mamacita said...

Hi! Just wanted to let you know a featured your Italian Mac & Cheese recipe on my blog for a Crazy Cooking Challenge. It was so good!
http://thecrunchymamacita.blogspot.com/2011/09/italian-mac-cheese.html

Paige @ thecrunchymamacita.blogspot.com

Elsie said...

My favorite sandwich from public school was Mary Elizabeth's salmon salad sandwich. I loved those and she didn't. I always had peanut butter sandwiches which I detested and she loved so on those days when we traded sandwiches we were both in sandwich heaven.

ThatGirlRuns said...

I grew up in Germany where sandwiches tend to be open faced on whole grain bread. But once in a while my mom indulged me with a a soft doughy roll fresh from the corner baker, freshly churned butter and mild salami. It was simle but oh, so incredibly delicious! My mouth still waters to this day!

Allison said...

my "fondest" memory and i use the term very very loosely was turkey sandwiches. i loathed them and its all my mother ever made. I usually traded with someone or *gasp* threw them out. I now realize how much of my mothers money i wasted! lol.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

EJACKS-I was one lucky bambino! I love pb and banana sandwiches though.

april-Would you believe I never liked Fluffernutter. I was weird.

kate-That's too funny. At least your mom didn't have to worry about you being pregnant. ;)

paige-Thanks! I'll come check it out. :)

elsie- I love that your favorite sandwich wasn't even yours!

lainie said...

I HATE to admit this, and only recently have, but there was a spell in school when everyday my mother made me a sandwich and everyday i threw it away. eeeek! so awful. i just loathed them for some reason. thankfully, i have grown out of that phase and love sandwiches. i also work from home and think this cookbook would greatly inspire my home lunches!

Nupur said...

My mother made a wonderful open-faced sandwich for school lunch every once in a while. A mixture of potato, peas and assorted shredded vegetables, with a few spices, was mashed together and patted onto white bread. Then a sprinkling of cheese, and the open-faced sandwich was pan-fried on both sides until the bread and cheese was brown and yummy. She tucked ketchup in a tiny box on the side for dipping. It was completely cold and fairly soggy by the time I ate it but it tasted fantastic.

stacief said...

Oh how sad...I don't really have a favorite sandwich memory. I think I at a lot of pb&j. I do remember my dad making me a chicken sandwich that I loved with pressed chicken. It is a wonder that I am such foodie now!

Allison said...

mmm that looks so good! My favorite sandwich always has and always will be the classic peanut butter and jelly. I'm pretty sure I ate one every day in first grade! My dad also made this great sandwich once that had turkey, roast beef, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, home made mayo, pickles and probably more! I just remember the sandwich tasted so good, was huge, and years later friends would comment on its amazingness.

Magic of Spice said...

My boys would love this sandwich! Since I don't eat meat, even as a child, my lunches usually consisted of salad and veggie goodies :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lainie- I won't tell your mom, promise! What was it you hated? The texture? The ingredients? Just curious.

nupur-Ooh, that sounds so good. And I know what you mean about it still tasting good even when it's cold. I felt the same way about my mom's meatball sandwiches.

staceif-Pressed chicken? How did he make it? Do you remember?

Shana said...

Hands down, my fav sandwich was cold leftover roast beef with ketchup on white bread.

larrouxgirl said...

Mama usually used whatever leftovers she could get away with, occasionally relying on bologna (thick cut, garlic flavored), but my fave was crunchy peanut butter with apple jelly. The sandwiches were always lovely warm and soft by lunch

Kirsten said...

That was my daughter's lunch today. She loves it.
I grew up in Germany and kids go home for lunch to eat a warm home cooked meal.

Melissa said...

Typically, my school lunch consisted of half of a peanut butter sandwich (no jelly) or yogurt, paired with a snack and a juice box. I ate that lunch everyday from the time I was in 1st grade until I graduated from high school! I'm not picky, I'm just a creature of habit! By the way, your meatball sub looks so delicious!

Lovey Dove said...

I love love a grilled reuben with extra kraut

Figs and Artichokes said...

Susan...just to let you know-got my book and think my young man will love learning to cook with it. A great into for the guy who has never really cooked! My favorites were peanut butter with mint jelly, or honey when I was young. The mint jelly was just fun, and the honey made the bread kind of crunchy. Later, when I was buying lunch at the middle school it was tuna salad with bbq potato chips sandwiched in.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Our local sandwich shop does a great meatball panini...your recipe might just save me a few quid though!

Melissa @IWasBornToCook said...

My mom would frequently make us cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. Yum!

bgdean@bellsouth.net said...

In high school, my sweet mother would send me away with my favorite and quintessentially Southern sandwich - Bacon Lettuce and Tomato on White Bread. She would lovingly wrap the tomatoes, bacon, and lettuce separately in Saran wrap so the sandwich would be fresh and not soggy. Two slices of white bread (gasp) with just the right amount of homemade mayonnaise and I was in heaven. I sure do wish she was here to enjoy one with me now.

Nicole said...

I had to laugh at this post because it brought me back to when I was in grammar school...St. Edwards School on Branch ave. Every Friday during Lent- we could not eat meat. So it was Pizza strips from DePretrillo's, PB&J sandwiches or Italian Tuna Grinders....My dad always made the best Tuna grinders. Every Friday I would open my sandwich from the tin foil wrapper and eat the best sandwich ever...it helped me survive 8th grade...

Kim in RI said...

My absolute favorite lunch for school was leftover meatloaf on white bread. Still is one of my faves. Had to be mom's too made with Campbell's tomato soup!
(and I never like fluff either!)

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I haven't had a killer meatball sandwich in ages! I'm putting this on the menu for Sunday night. I grew San Marzano tomatoes in the garden this year so I'm going to try making your tomato sauce with those!

I remember loving egg salad sandwiches in my lunch box.

Patty said...

Although my mom was Italian ...and my dad was Polish...my favorite lunch sandwich was made by my dad and was not either of my parents' heritages..
It was white bread smeared with mayonnaise and it had a huge piece of iceberg lettuce on it and slices of Kraft American cheese. I remember that my dad put so much crispy lettuce on each sandwich that I could barely bite into it. Then he precision wrapped it in waxed paper...so tightly that the stuff inside never moved...when I miss my dad I make one of these...only on whole wheat smooshy bread.

MH said...

pickle, ham, and gouda on potato bread

DRTVrMoi said...

My favorite school lunch was a fitting tribute to my mother's cooking style. Before there was a panini maker, there was the clothing iron. Mom would make an American cheese sandwich with the outer bread slices smeared with butter. She'd wrap it in aluminum foil and then place a hot iron on it. Several minutes on each side and voila, a golden grill cheese sandwich, toasted on the outside, melted in the center. Mom hated cooking but not a day went by that I did not have a hot, warm masterpiece of love.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

allison-I love that so many people's dads made their lunches. Your dad's creation sounds amazing!

magic of spice-That's OK. It was healthy.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

larrouxgirl-I never heard of thick cut bologna until I was researching my sandwich book. What a delicious discovery! If only I had known earlier.

shana-Love, love, love cold meatloaf sandwiches with ketchup.

kirsten-How I wish we could still have kids come home for lunch.

melissa-Most of us are creatures of habit, aren't we?

loveydove-Mmmm....

figsnartichokes-Oh, thank you! I'm so happy you like the book. Mint jelly? Wow! Your mom was cutting edge. :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

melissa-I never had those because I wouldn't eat cream cheese.

bgdean-What a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I suppose that why food memories are so poignant; they're inextricably linked with memories of our loved ones.

nicole-Oh, my gawd! That's soooo Ro- DY-lin. ;)
I loved DePetrillo's pizza strips. Now, I'm feeling nostalgic.

kim-Yay! that makes two of us who don't like Fluff.

savoringtime-You have home-grown San Marzano tomatoes? What's your address? ;)

patty-Oh, that's so sweet. I do the same thing when I'm missing a loved one. Somehow eating their food always makes you feel just a little less sad.

MH- Mmmm...

DRTVR-Ah! I was hoping someone would mention this! I've heard stories about ironing sandwiches but have never actually done it. I love this! Thanks so much for sharing.

Janet Wise said...

The comments brought back a lot of fun memories. Being impressionable in middle school all my friends ate the same thing for months, buy the bologna on white bread, thick with mustard which we adulterated with a mountain of potato chips and smashed down between the bread. Crunch, crunch, crunch. We thought we were big trendsetters.

ST said...

Growing up in the Middle East, I never even saw an American-style sandwich on white bread until I was in middle school. My school sandwiches were what in Lebanon we call "a'aroos" - one side of a pita bread spread with butter and ham or labneh and sliced cucumbers, then rolled up like a burrito. Today you'd call it a wrap. My mom would cut them in half and wrap the two halves in aluminum foil before packing them in my lunchbox. My girls love them too, so for their school lunches we alternate them with good old PB&J on white bread!

Deborah Dowd said...

My want to forget lunch sandwich was potted meat, but my favorite was canned corned beef (never had the real until I was an adult!)with swiss cheese mayo on an onion roll!

Liz the Chef said...

My Mom, bless her heart, packed me PB&J sandwiches but added lettuce and made them with wholewheat bread - this was in the 1950's...I was so ashamed!

lilianep007 said...

I was one of those very lucky children that walked home for lunch every day. I used to envy the kids that stayed at school for lunch...where was my head at? My Mom was a wonderful Italian cook!!! I miss her so much and the delicious fresh tomato sandwiches from her garden on her homemade bread.

barbara n said...

favorite childhood lunch sandwich would have to have been peanut butter and fluff!!!!

FamilySpice said...

I made my own sandwiches since I did a better job than my mom! LOL! Always included chopped green olives or pickles!

Myrrh said...

Back when I was going to elementary school, I used to spend Saturday and Sunday nights at my father's house. So on Monday morning it was up to him to pack me a lunch and bring me to school.

I pretty much hated everything about Mondays except for the sandwiches he'd pack me; My favourite was his shredded bbq chicken, onion and apple-slice sandwiches on challah bread. They were crunchy and chewy and sweet and even though they'd get cold (and therefore just not as good as when the chicken was still hot), I was just enough of a little five-year-old jerk to lord it over my friends.

Anonymous said...

Sure beats those hot dog and fried baloney or spam sandwiches my mom served me as a kid.

Rosemary said...

I already have the book (which I've highly recommended, BTW) but my favorite childhood lunch memory is what my family likes to think of as our own classic. We called it a PeaLeTom -- peanut butter, lettuce and tomato on toast. I packed it myself (you lucky dog) and packed everything separately so the sandwich wouldn't get mushy. And I happily assembled it in front of the weird glances from my friends. (I loved geometry -- or maybe it was the teacher!)

Jenny Reiswig said...

When I was school-lunch age, my mom had two little ones at home. So in September she would ask what I wanted for lunch that YEAR. I had Muenster cheese year, ham year, but the best was chicken soup year. She used the Lipton chicken noodle that was a step up from cup-a-noodle. Sitting in my thermos til lunch time, the noodles would swell up and the whole thing would be a warm slippery chicken pudding. YUMMMM.

Elizabeth said...

My mother was ahead of her time! I was always so embarrassed to pull out my whole wheat sandwiches with organic peanut butter when everyone else had smooshy white bread and bologna. Those sandwiches, plus whole wheat oatmeal cookies (little bricks with raisins), showed me she cared. ;-)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-I think it does too. But now I feel bad. :(

rosemary-You had to pack your own? Well, maybe that's why you were good in geometry. You know, the angles and what not. ;)

jenny- Muenster cheese for a whole year? And you lived to tell about it. Aw, I feel so bad. Course, the chix soup definitely made up for it. You must have been such a sweet child.

elizabeth-She was ahead of her time, and all the better for you and your health!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

janet-Aaaah! Potato chips sandwiches. God, I loved those. And they're in the book too!

st-Your lunch sounds delicious! And, yes, it is like a wrap, which I love at Middle Eastern restaurants.

deborah-At least it was on an onion roll. Mmm...

liz-Yes, bless her heart, indeed.

lilianne-Sometimes we don't know how lucky we are!

barbara-New England classic!

familyspice-Haha! My mom would never have allowed it.

myrrh-Once again, dad hits a homerun! Love the sound of all of them.

Lexi said...

My all time favorite school lunch sandwhich was the BLT. On OatNut bread with mayo and extra bacon! As I grew older I began to prefer it with turkey and since I've home gluten free I'm just realizing how long it's been since I've had an authentic old fashioned bacon lettuce and tomato!

Anonymous said...

My favorite school lunch sandwich consisted of fried bologna on white bread with mustard, lettuce and tomato optional. Best. Ever.
brenda.cobble@yahoo.com

debra said...

When I was a kid, someone kept stealing my lunches from my locker. So I decided to make a special sandwich: peanut butter, vasoline, ketchup, mustard and vicks vaporub. My lunch was never stolen again!

Staci said...

I can't remember any good lunch time sandwiches, but my mom used to make me grilled ham sandwiches for dinner when she made something for the family dinner that I didn't like. It was such a simple sandwich, but I loved it!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lexi-When can one not go for a good BLT? ;)

anonymous-I'm sure it was splendid.

deb-Damn, girl. How'd you ever think that one up?

staci-I love leftover Easter ham sandwiches for dinner too. Oooh, so good.

Anonymous said...

The only one I remember have a lot of the time was egg salad. I must have taken it a lot one year because I remember my classmates teasing me about it!
Pamma

KC Quilter said...

Oh, dear, I'm afraid we weren't too creative back in the day with the lunch box! Seems that it was usually bologna (how we escaped food poisoning I don't know!) or PBJ. Just discovered your blog and it is WONDERFUL!

Culinary Adventures said...

Strange but true....my most favorite lunch sandwich ever was olive loaf on toast with yellow mustard. Not something that I would ever order at a restaurant, nor is it something that I would feed my kids. However, sitting at the table with my dad (who made me the sandwich) and chatting was awesome.

annie said...

I usually ate some type of pannino with assorted cold cuts and some cheese. These would vary with different type deli meats, sometimes a ham and cheese on white sliced bread (oh the horror!)

rebecca said...

i had a plain ol' pb&j every day for lunch for yeeeears... i was such a picky eater! now that my tastes have greatly expanded, i have a lot of catching up to do in the sandwich world : )

Jen Shoup said...

I loved toasted crunchy peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I didn't really care what the jam was. I liked peach, apricot, strawberry, boysenberry - whatever.

Catie said...

Peanut butter and banana sandwiches were a favorite of mine when I was a kid!

Malia said...

Growing up I wasn't a fan of PB&Js but for some strange reason I loved pimento loaf...I don't know if I would eat it now and I haven't eaten since. I have since learned to love PB&Js, but in paticular Peanut Butter & Co. Cinnamon Rasin Swirl and banana sandwiches.

Anonymous said...

I just loved my mother's chicken cutlet sandwiches. They were the best! -Mimi from R.I.

whitneyingram said...

I was introduced to the perfection of a turkey sandwich with potato chips in it by my Grandma Sally. She would make us turkey sandwiches and we would sit in her little grove of aspen trees in her backyard as we ate our lunch. I still remember the day she tucked Lay's potato chips into my sandwich. Now with my sisters and I, we always note that when out to lunch with each other.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

pamma-It must have indeed been a lot!

KC-Oh, thank you! Welcome to my home! :)

culinary adventures-

annie-White bread is a horror! I agree.

rebecca-Well, my book has over 400 recipes in it, so that would help you out!

jen-Only crunchy for me too.

catie-Yum!

malia-I like pimento spread now, but I would never have eaten it as a kid.

mimi-I loved my mom's chicken cutlet sandwiches too!

Rebecca said...

On special occasions my mom would buy me a "brown bag" lunch from a local sandwich shop. I loved their ham and cheese sub!

Krickett said...

I wasn't so much what my mom made...it was how she presented it. She always grabbed cookie cutters and I was always pleased with the shape of the day. Maybe making it look so good made up for the fact that it was pb&j again, or cheese, bologna and mayo.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Congratulations to Myrrh, Kirsten, and Mary who emailed her response to me! Ladies, please send me your mailing information so I can send you your book.

Thanks again to everyone who participated. There will more give-aways to come and more sandwiches to eat!

Cheers,
Susan

anniebakes said...

I'm new to your blog, but I love a good giveaway. I always hada peanut butter and honey sandwich on white bread and I'd put my baggie of potato chips in the middle, mm yum! anne

new follower!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

annie-Welcome to my blog! Potato chips in sandwiches are such a guilty pleasure. Thanks for visiting, and hope to see ya soon.

theminx said...

Wow - I don't think I ever had such a fancy sandwich for lunch. Most of the time, Mom packed my favorite imported ham on rye with 1000 Island dressing and iceberg lettuce, but once in a while she sent me to school with a big salad full of carrots and radishes and hard boiled eggs. The other kids looked at me like I was weird or something, but it sure was better than what the school provided.

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