Recipe courtesy of Mangia Mia

The Smasher

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 4 hr 50 min
  • Active: 1 hr 40 min
  • Yield: 10 sandwiches
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Marinara Sauce:

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 

1 onion, diced 

6 ounces tomato paste (no salt added) 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning 

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled 

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1/8 teaspoon salt

One 15-ounce can tomato sauce 

One 14 1/2-ounce can crushed tomatoes (no salt added) 

1/4 cup red wine 

1 bay leaf 


2/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs

2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 teaspoons black pepper, ground 

2 teaspoons sea salt 

1 ounce ketchup (about 2 tablespoons)

7 cloves garlic, finely minced 

1 egg 

1 1/2 pounds fresh ground beef (88 percent lean) 

The Sandwich:

Butter, room temperature, for spreading and toasting

1 large loaf garlic bread, sliced 1 1/2-inches thick 

5 cups grated mozzarella

2 cups grated Parmesan


  1. For the marinara sauce: Set a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softens, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, parsley, sugar, Italian seasoning, basil, black pepper, red pepper flakes and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, red wine, bay leaf and 1 cup water. Raise the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. For the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, black pepper, sea salt, ketchup, garlic and egg. Mix well. Add the ground beef and knead gently to combine.
  6. Form the mixture into twenty equal-sized meatballs. Set the meatballs on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
  7. For the sandwich: Butter the garlic bread and toast on one side in a large skillet.
  8. Spread some marinara sauce on the toasted side of a slice of garlic bread, then top with 1/4 cup mozzarella.
  9. Smash two meatballs with a large spatula to flatten them. Place the meatballs on top of the mozzarella. Add a little more marinara sauce, and then sprinkle with another 1/4 cup mozzarella. Top with another slice of bread, toasted-side down.
  10. Set the skillet over medium heat. Add some butter and swirl it around to coat the bottom. Place the assembled sandwich in the skillet and press with an offset spatula to toast the bread on its untoasted side. Flip the sandwich, press and toast on the reverse side. Remove to a plate, sprinkle with some of the Parmesan and serve.