I have many, many variations on meatloaf.
OOOPS! Wrong Meat Loaf. Sorry, Mr. Loaf! 😉
I mean this kind:
While many of my meat loaf recipes don’t require a meat loaf pan, my recipe for Veggie-Packed Meatloaf bakes up best in a meat loaf pan, as the loaf is so chock-full of veggies that it won’t really hold its shape until after its baked.
As with most meatloaves, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you let it rest for 15 minutes or so before serving — otherwise, you’ll have meatloaf crumbles instead of meatloaf slices. The crumbles will be just as yummy, ‘though not quite as pretty as the slices. 😉
Along with adding lovely nutrients and a bit of fiber, the vegetables impart a delicious flavor and moisture to the meatloaf (a boon, as I use lean ground meats), as well as giving it a bit of pretty color. Hubby always jokes that it has so many veggies in it that there’s no need to serve a vegetable along with it. 😉
While you can make this meatloaf with all ground meat — beef and turkey work equally well — I really enjoy making this with 1 pound of ground meat and 1/2 pound reduced-fat bulk ground sausage. The sausage is an easy way to lots of flavor, and it also adds a nice texture to the meatloaf, as well. You can use whatever assortment of 3 or 4 (preferably fresh) veggies that you want. I used some of the green bell pepper tops left over from when I made stuffed bell peppers, as well as some fresh mushroom and carrot. I used my wee little food processor to whiz it all up to a rather fine consistency. Zucchini and/or yellow squash would be tasty in it, too. This meatloaf is a great way to use up bits of fresh veg you have.
Leftovers make excellent sandwiches — I like mine on wheat or grain bread with a bit of steak sauce.
Traditionally, this veggie-packed meatloaf is topped with some sliced tomato and sliced cheese (I like to use reduced fat American or maybe cheddar), but when I made this the other night, I topped it with some of the thick, homemade tomato soup I had on reserve in the freezer.
By the way, you can make this up the night before, stick it in the ‘fridge, and then pop it in the oven the next day. That’s what I did — I had a shopping trip to Tyler planned for Thursday, so I made up this meatloaf on Wednesday night, and on Thursday morning, I left instructions with hubby to top it with the tomato soup and place it in the oven at 350F if I weren’t home by a certain time.
When I walked in the door, the house was already smelling yummy! 🙂
Veggie-Packed Meatloaf (Serves 6)
- 1 1/2 pounds lean (93/7 or greater) ground beef or ground turkey (OR, use 1 pound lean ground meat and 1/2 pound reduced-fat bulk ground sausage)
- 1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
- Plain bread or cracker crumbs as needed (equivalent of 2 or 3 slices of bread)
- Healthy splash of liquid (wine, milk, tomato sauce, tomato juice, vegetable juice)
- Seasonings to taste: Worcestershire sauce, squirt of yellow mustard (this complements the sausage nicely, if you use part sausage), parsley, sage, garlic powder, sage, & coarse-ground black pepper
- 1/4 to 1/2 onion (red, yellow, white), finely chopped
- Three or four kinds of finely chopped/diced veggies to taste, such as: bell pepper (green, yellow, or red), mushroom, carrot, celery, zucchini, yellow squash — I try to make sure I have a variety of color and tastes
- Sliced tomato and reduced-fat cheese, for topping
- Place bread/cracker crumbs in a bowl. Beat in egg, healthy splash of liquid (you can add in more later if need be; ditto with the bread/cracker crumbs), and seasonings to taste.
- Stir in minced/chopped veg.
- Add ground meat and mix thoroughly. Add more liquid and/or bread/cracker crumbs and other seasonings if needed.
- Spread into meatloaf pan.
- Top with sliced tomato.
- Bake at 350F for 1 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 hours.
- During last 15 minutes or so of baking, top with sliced (or grated) cheese.
- Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
Make It Ahead of Time: You can mix up the meatloaf and place in meatloaf pan, cover, and place in ‘fridge for up to 24 hours before baking.