Traditional recipes for meatloaf call for ground beef, ground veal, eggs, whole milk and lots of salt, all of which make meatloaf a dish high in fat and sodium. Have you ever made a traditional meatloaf in a loaf pan? When you take it out of the oven, that block of meat is swimming in grease. No thanks.
It's easy to lighten up this classic comfort food, though, and still get plenty of the flavor and texture that makes meatloaf such a cozy kind of dish.
First, substitute turkey for the beef and veal. Use just one egg for every 1 ½ pounds of meat, and leave out the whole milk altogether. You don't really need it.
Add a blend of dried, earthy herbs and just enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together and that's it. No salt or Worcestershire sauce; let the ketchup glaze be the saltiness in the mix.
Here's my recipe for Turkey Meatloaf, contemporary style:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly spray a foil lined baking dish with cooking spray
1 ½ pounds of lean turkey
1 herbal mix (listed below)
1 ½ cups of breadcrumbs
Low sodium ketchup
Place the turkey in a large mixing bowl
Add the herbal mix and combine
Add the egg and mix it in
Add about ½ the amount of breadcrumbs and work it into the ground turkey
Add about ¼ to ½ of the remaining breadcrumbs and work them in to the meat
Add the remaining breadcrumbs and knead until the breadcrumbs are absorbed
Place the mixture into the prepared baking dish and shape into a loaf
Spread the ketchup over the meatloaf
Bake for one hour
Let the meatloaf rest for 10 to 15 minutes
Serve with baked potato and sliced tomato – or whatever tickles your fancy that day
The Herbal Blend and some Variations
1 tablespoon dried onion flake
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
The herbal blend is really the secret to taste in this recipe. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor that fresh herbs, and hold up to the long cooking time, so use dried rather than fresh. But try different blends to find the right one for your taste.
For example, trade dried rosemary for the marjoram for a more aromatic flavor, and add a little more thyme for balance.
Try a blend of middle eastern spices, such as cumin and paprika, and nutmeg for a bit sweetness. Like a little heat in your meatloaf? Mix a dash of allspice, a dash of chili powder and a teaspoon of dried oregano for your seasonings, and balance that with a teaspoon of dried thyme.
Add a Few Veggies as Well, and Maybe Fruit
A few chopped onions, carrots and celery add texture and taste to the meatloaf, but you needn't stick with the traditional trinity of veggies. Try something different, like jalapeno peppers and corn, or chopped zucchini and onions.
If, like us, you don't like veggies in your meatloaf, make sure to add them to the dinner plate. I usually keep it simple – sliced tomatoes from the garden are my favorite. But think about add some fruit instead, such as sliced apples or put a bowl of grapes on the table and let everybody munch them at their leisure. A bite of fresh fruit makes for a nice contrast to the softer, gentler meatloaf.
And the best part of meatloaf is meatloaf sandwiches. Guilt free meatloaf sandwiches.This is comfort food, with a contemporary twist.