Meatball Subs with Vodka Sauce and Whipped Garlic Parmesan Ricotta

Vodka sauce is delicious and I love it, but have you ever wondered why there is vodka in it? Vodka has no flavor, so what does it add? I was curious about this myself and according to google, the vodka helps the cream or half and half that is usually used in the sauce to blend with the acidic tomato and stay creamy and emulsified.

I used jarred sauce here, but there are many great recipes for from scratch vodka sauce online. I used my usual meatball recipe, although we had some home ground beef my husband makes for burgers in the freezer so I used that since I had it.

To be totally honest, I have never been super impressed by ricotta. I always felt it could be creamier and would be better that way. A while ago I discovered whipped ricotta, which is exactly what it sounds like, and now I love using it. I made some whipped ricotta with garlic, parmesan and Italian herbs, and slathered the toasted rolls with it before adding meatballs and sauce, and it was pretty decadent.

Meatball Subs with Vodka Sauce and Whipped Garlic Parmesan Ricotta

Savory meatballs in vodka sauce served on toasted sub rolls with whipped garlic parmesan ricotta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Lunch, Main Course
Servings 4 servings


For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 jar vodka sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • fresh black pepper

For the whipped ricotta:

  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 garlic clove

To serve:

  • 4 sub rolls toasted
  • grated parm for topping


For the meatballs:

  • Combine the beef, egg, spices and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix gently with your hands. Add the bread crumbs and mix again until evenly combined. Fry a small piece of the meat in a frying pan until cooked through and taste for seasoning. Adjust as needed.
  • Heat a deep skillet over medium and add rolled balls of the meat mixture. Brown on all sides, shaking the pan as needed to turn the meatballs. Reduce heat to low and add the sauce. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or so until the meatballs are cooked and the flavors are melded.

For the ricotta:

  • Place all ingredients into a mason jar or other tall cup and blend with a stick blender until smooth and fluffy. You can also do this with a small blender. Taste and season as needed.

To serve:

  • Toast your rolls under the broiler until lightly golden. Add some whipped ricotta and then the meatballs and a little sauce. Top with some grated parm and serve.
Keyword Beef, Lunch, Main Dish

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