Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meatloaf with Roasted Vegetables


I may be one of the last people in the United States to discover what a wonderful, delicious and even healthy treat meatloaf can be. My past experiences with meatloaf have admittedly been limited.

With parents that turned vegetarian early in my adolescence, the closest I ever came to sampling meatloaf at home was when my mother would make "nutloaf" ~ a questionable mix of ground nuts and mushrooms (along with many other ingredients) shaped into loaf form and baked until it tasted completely dry. I love my mother - who is universally acknowledged as a great cook - but could never summon any positive feeling for that nutloaf in either my heart or stomach. Since that time I’ve pretty much avoided creating, eating or ordering any foods which include the word "loaf".

Over the past few months though, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten free recipe adaptation* that combines a traditional meatloaf recipe with sensational roasted vegetables. The result is not only healthier than a stereotypical meatloaf, it is also beautiful to look at and quite tasty to eat.

I would love to know what suggestions my vegetarian readers have for adapting this recipe even further to become a totally meatless roasted vegetable loaf. I have a feeling it could be great that way too... without ground nuts.



Meatloaf with Roasted Vegetables

What You’ll Need:


Roasted Vegetable Medley...

1 small red onion
1 small yellow onion
2 large red bell peppers
2 – 3 large zucchini, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Marjoram

Meatloaf...

1 ½ cups gluten free ketchup
1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (I use Gillian’s)
1.75 lbs ground beef (15 – 22%)
¼ cup Merlot
1 ½ cups of roasted vegetable medley
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp dried rosemary
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 ½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper


How It Works:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. While it is heating up, you can work on your prep work: mincing up the zucchini, red peppers, onions and garlic. Once they are all cut up, throw everything into a single mixing bowl. Douse the vegetables with about two glugs of olive oil and if you aren’t squeamish about touching food it works best if you use your own hands to thoroughly combine all of the vegetables and oil. When this is done, spread the medley across a baking sheet (with sides/rim) and sprinkle them well with salt, pepper and a light dusting of marjoram. Bake in oven uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes or until the onions have softened and browned just slightly.

Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees. In a very large mixing bowl, combine your gluten free breadcrumbs, fresh mozzarella, crushed red pepper and ground beef with your tablespoons of basil, marjoram and rosemary. Add 1 ½ cups of your roasted vegetable medley, along with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix it all really well – again, using your hands works best.

In a separate bowl, throw together the eggs, ½ cup of ketchup and merlot. Whisk it together rapidly and when it is fully integrated pour it into your beef mixture. At this point you may wish to use a sturdy spoon (or two) to fully combine the sauce into the beef and breadcrumbs.

Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 pan (your basic bread loaf pan) and then add enough of your meatloaf mixture to fill the pan halfway. Smooth the top – about halfway up the pan – with a butter knife or spoon and then coat it with another ½ cup of ketchup. This will add a lovely and moist interior stripe… extra flavor in every slice! Now spoon the rest of your meatloaf mix into the pan and shape the top into loaf form. Spread the remaining ½ cup of ketchup over the top of the loaf.

Place your loaf uncovered in the oven and bake it until the top is brown and all juices run clear when you stick a knife into it. In our oven (which runs hot) this takes about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and allow your loaf to rest for a few minutes before serving ~ this tasty and filling loaf will slice much more evenly if its not too hot.

Top each slice with a heaping spoonful of your remaining roasted vegetable medley - which can be warmed up in a frying pan if it has cooled. What a gorgeous and healthy meal!

Serves 6 – 8 as a main course. Excellent with a side salad!
*Original recipe from The Flavors of Bon Appetit 2006, p. 42

1 comment:

The Organized Dreamer said...

I bet you could substitute "boca" or "garden veggie" meatless crumbles pound for pound in place of the ground beef. Though, making my own "veggie loaf" has peaked my interest, I've done some serious research on the effects of soy. Many studies show that excessive amounts of soy in a man's diet can severely lower their fertility.

With that said, I feel challenged to find a proper substitute! *Runs off to google*