Weeknight Meal: Meatloaf

Vegetables add texture and flavor to an otherwise bland dish.

Oh, the homely meatloaf. A staple at American dinner tables since the 1800s, the meatloaf is as classically American as apple pie and Nascar. Though not the sexiest dish on the block, meatloaf is a great way to feed a lot of people quickly and cheaply. My recipe is a riff on my mom’s, which incorporates rice into the meat mixture, rather than bread crumbs. The result is a meatloaf that is less dense in texture than your traditional meatloaf recipe. Though Saint Nancy makes one heck of a meatloaf, I’ve updated her recipe by adding a bunch of sautéed vegetables to the mix, so that I can get my all my FDA required servings of meat and veggies in one fell swoop.

Cooked Rice: My mom’s key ingredient for an amazing loaf

Meatloaf, makes two medium meat loaves (or one big one) that serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup cooked rice
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef (though ground turkey works here too)
  • 2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 package of mushrooms (I used baby bella), chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1, 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • non-stick cooking spray

Equipment:

  • 9”x13” baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up (you can also use a loaf pan if you want to keep it old school)
  • sauté pan
  • wooden spoon or spatula
  • large bowl for mixing
  • small mixing bowl

The Process:

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2) Heat your sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté your onions, carrots, thyme, and red pepper flakes until the onions are translucent and the carrots have begun to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Add your garlic and cook the vegetables for another 2 minutes making sure to stir the veggies around so the garlic doesn’t burn. Season the cooked vegetables with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside and let them cool al the way down to room temperature (this step can be done a day or two in advance. Just store the veggies in a Tupperware container in refrigerator until you are ready to use them).

3) Using a spatula spoon, mix together 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce, the egg, a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and fresh black pepper to taste in a large mixing bowl. Add your meat, vegetables, and rice to the bowl and mix them thoroughly with your wet ingredients.

4) Split your meat mixture in half and form each half into a rough loaf shape on your baking sheet. Place the baking sheets in the oven.

5) Bake the meatloaf for 20-25 minutes. Drain the excess fat from each meatloaf (You can usually just spoon it off the pan).

By adding rice and vegetables, you avoid the creepy homogenous loaf of meat. Instead you get a meatloaf with great texture and identifiable ingredients.

6) In a small mixing bowl, mix together the remaining tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (sometimes I add more vinegar depending on how I’m feeling. There are no hard and fast rules with meatloaf). Evenly divide the sauce among the two meatloaves covering the top. Place the sheet pan bake into the oven. Cook the meatloaves for another ten minutes or until the meat is cooked through (about 160 degrees).

7) Take the meatloaves out f the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Cookies and Salt Note:

  • Feel free to experiment with your loaf. I’ve subbed turkey for beef, added different veggies like roasted zucchini, and even tweaked it using middle eastern spices. Meatloaf is a blank canvas. Have fun.
  • Meatloaf is one of those great recipes that freezes and reheats really well. So make a couple of batches for some awesome leftovers.

Disclaimer: This post is unsponsored. I tried reaching out to THE MEATLOAF, but he said he wasn’t interested and now I have to stay at least 200 feet away from him at all times.

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