A vegan meatball sub that’s like a flavor explosion in your face! Spicy black bean meatballs are smothered in chipotle-tomato sauce and stuffed into crusty rolls to make these scrumptious Mexican-inspired vegan tortas!
I’m so bad at keeping up on holiday food. Those pesky holidays. They always sneak up on me! And I think I’ve forgotten Cinco de Mayo most years on this blog.
I thought that was the case this year, and then I found this delicious little (okay, big) sandwich hiding away in my “photos to edit” folder. I had some soup on the calendar today, but it’s been 90-ish degrees for the last few days and I’m just not feeling it. So, Mexican vegan sandwiches it is!
Vegan meatballs are a favorite around here, and I’m pretty determined to cover every variation of every type of meatball from all over the world.
I’ll let you in on a secret about vegan meatball making: most recipes that work as veggie burgers work as meatballs, and vice versa.
So the meatball part of this one looks a lot like a black bean burger recipe. (In fact, I adapted it from this black bean burger recipe.)
The main difference is that I baked the meatballs (the burgers are pan-fried) because that just usually works better for meatballs.
The sauce cooks while the meatballs bake. It’s a super simple tomato sauce with some chipotle and a few other spices added.
The sandwiches come together just like a traditional meatball sandwich. I topped mine simply, with some diced avocado and lettuce, but onions, guacamole, vegan cheese, and cashew cream would all be delicious on these.
Tips for Making Delicious Vegan Tortas de Albondigas
- Be sure not to overdo it when blending the black bean mixture. You want some texture, otherwise your meatballs will be mushy.
- The meatballs and the sauce are both freezer friendly. When it comes to freezing the meatballs, I like to freeze the black bean mixture before rolling and baking (but after works too).
- Switch things up by making the meatballs into burgers. Just shape into patties, and pan fry for about 5 minutes on each side in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Stuff into buns and top with the chipotle-tomato sauce.
- You’ll be using chipotle peppers from a can for this recipe, and you’ll probably have some leftover. Seal them up and freeze them for up to 3 months.
- I totally wanted to crush some tortilla chips and stuff them into the sandwiches alongside the meatballs. But I held back. Will somebody pleeeeeeease do it and tell me how amazing it was??
Vegan Tortas de Albondigas (Mexican Meatball Subs)
A vegan meatball sub that's like a flavor explosion in your face! Spicy black bean meatballs are smothered in chipotle-tomato sauce and stuffed into crusty rolls to make these scrumptious Mexican-inspired vegan tortas!
For the Meatballs
- 1 (14 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- Oil mister or cooking spray
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 chipotle peppers (from a can), finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 bolillo or telera rolls, sliced open
- Diced avocado
- Diced onion
- Shredded lettuce
To Make the Meatballs
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until everything is finely chopped and well-mixed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Taste test the mixture and adjust any seasonings to your liking.
Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls (you should get about 20-25) and arrange them on the baking sheet. Lightly spray with oil.
Bake the meatballs until lightly browned, about 30 minutes, flipping once about halfway through.
To Make the Sauce
While the meatballs bake, coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute, until very fragrant.
Stir in the tomato sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, chipotle peppers, and oregano.
Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow it to cook for about 25 minutes, until it thickens up just a bit.
Remove the sauce from heat. Taste test and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any other seasonings to your liking (see note).
Assemble the Sandwiches
Slice the rolls open and stuff with meatballs and lettuce. Ladle the sauce over top and top with avocado and onion.
For extra chipotle flavor (and heat), stir in some of the adobo sauce from your can of chipotle peppers.