So, what are your thoughts on meatloaf?
I feel like it can go one of two ways:
- You absolutely love it and it brings up fond memories of childhood dinners (with a heaping pile of mashed potatoes, of course).
- You loathe it with a passion and it reminds you of a big fat pile of mush (this probably depends on how great of cooks your parents were 😉 )
I fall in the first camp, sort of.
I don’t think I really loved it as a kid, but now that I’ve tried tons of fancied-up adult versions, I’m a raving fan.
Thanks to lots of yummy add-ins like caramelized onions, fresh or dried herbs, sharp cheeses, and flavor bombs like tomato paste or sun dried tomatoes, meat loaf is suddenly elevated to a whole new level. It’s sophisticated, multi-layered, and dare I say it, worthy of company???
One thing that meatloaf is great for is hiding vegetables.
Okay, so you don’t even NEED to hide vegetables, because they’re freaking delicious… but hey, if you’re going to bake a giant hunk of meat, you might as well up the nutrition factor by like 5000 by adding a bunch of veg.
The typical meatloaf has onions in it… and maybe some bell pepper, but that’s about it.
This meatloaf has two awesome upgrades:
- It uses ground turkey instead of ground beef, which gives the meatloaf a lighter flavor that pairs well with greens.
- It shockingly contains two full bags of kale & spinach (10 oz total) and a bunch of dried herbs. Winning! Tons of vitamins and minerals in a really palatable package.
These simple swaps mean tons of flavor and tons of nutrition.
As you can see from the pics, each bite has a generous helping of greens.
The secret to helping them blend in with the texture of the meatloaf (and not stay stringy or globby) is to chop them up into relatively small pieces (maybe 3/4 inch) before cooking. Once they cook up, they become little pieces of greens that distribute easily throughout the loaf.
I also like to sauté the onions before stirring them into the loaf. It gives them some extra flavor, & by cooking them first, it leaches out the extra liquid to avoid soggy meatloaf syndrome. 😉
But hey, no matter how fancy I’m trying to get with the mix-ins, I can’t abandon the classic ketchup topping. It’s just so quintessentially 1950’s America. I can’t let it go.
And let’s be honest here, it’s one of the best parts of meatloaf.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 5 oz baby spinach, chopped into roughly 1/2 inch pieces
- 5 oz baby kale, chopped into roughly 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 3/4 lb ground turkey
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup organic ketchup
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large nonstick skillet. Add the diced onions, dried parsley, dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper to the pan. Sauté over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until the onions are softened and just starting to turn golden.
Add the baby kale, spinach, and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring frequently, for 2 or 3 minutes, until just wilted. Remove from the heat and let cool until just slightly warm.
While the greens are cooling, prep the rest of the meatloaf. Add the ground turkey, eggs, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire sauce, sun dried tomatoes, milk, parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a large bowl. Add the cooled greens and onion mixture to the bowl and use your hands to thoroughly mix everything together.
Once the meatloaf is well mixed, take out a large 8x16 inch Pyrex baking dish and form two 4 inch by 8 inch meatloafs on each half of the dish. Spread 1/2 cup of organic ketchup on top of each loaf and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center of the meatloaf reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the ketchup topping has developed a nice crust.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy!
P.S. the leftovers make GREAT meatloaf sandwiches 😉