It’s true that I post a lot of Mexican recipes, as well as other things some consider pretty fancy. But it’s only two sides of me, and I have many! (smile) I love all sorts of food – from filet mignon and pomme frittes to a greasy burger and fries. Make no mistake; I love Comfort Food as much as the next person. And for me, meatloaf is a major comfort.
I still remember – and make! – meatloaf sandwiches with the left overs. In fact, I love them so much I always make a really big loaf to make certain I’ll have leftovers. Over the years, I’ve had fun coming up with variations on the theme so that I could enjoy it more often without getting bored with it. This version is for lovers of all things Italian. Think of it as a really, really big meatball.
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves chopped garlic
2 medium onions, diced
2 red peppers, seeded, and diced small – about the same size as the onions
1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
3 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup (or more) marinara sauce or spaghetti sauce.
Shredded or sliced Mozzarella cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Add the garlic to the pan and saute 1 minute.
Add the peppers and onions and saute until just soft. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth.
Add parsley, basil, salt and red pepper flakes to eggs and stir to combine.
In a second small bowl, combine the Parmesan and breadcrumbs.
In a very large bowl, combine the meat, herbs and eggs. Use your hands and make darn sure it’s all well combined.
Add Parmesan/breadcrumb mixture, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil – again using your hands. This time around, though, don’t over mix.
Transfer the meat mixture into an oiled loaf pan.
Top with the marinara sauce, making sure to spread evenly over the top.
If topping with cheese, do so now, and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.
If you don’t have a loaf pan, don’t worry. You can line a baking dish or cookie sheet, then hand-form the meat mixture into a loaf. Another neat alternative is to create single portions, either by forming them by hand, using small oven-proof dishes or a muffin pan. Remember to keep an eye on your loaves to make sure you don’t over-bake them.
Check out the top photo for a great idea for adding sliced Mozzarella cheese. Another way to serve is to omit the Mozzarella, then top slices with grated Parmesan cheese as in the last photo. Also, notice the fresh basil leaves, which make a great visual accompaniment, as well as a flavor blast – especially if you like basil.
Try this one out for a fun take on a classic Comfort Food. And make sure to leave me a comment, OK? Until next time,
Play with your food!
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