When it comes to rules, my philosophy is don’t break them just for the sake of breaking them. However, if it’s a dumb rule, snap it like a twig. Same thing applies to recipes. Obviously you gotta play by the rules when it comes to baking. And I’m OK with that. But fortunately I’ve learned not to follow the letter of the law where general cooking is concerned.
I used to be a teetotaler about ingredient amounts and varieties. Like, if a recipe called for vegetable stock and all I had was chicken stock, I wouldn’t even feel comfortable making that substitution. But I’ve come a long way, baby.
Now I’m rarely satisfied with just using one recipe. And I’ve realized that I’ve developed a bit of a process, especially when I’m making something new. Basically I gather several recipes for the same dish that sound good, take the best parts of each, and voilà—dinner. (OK, this isn’t rocket science, but it makes me feel like the recipe is my own.)
Enter last night’s meatloaf. After 5 recipes and a few personal inspirations, here’s the meatloaf mash-up that I made. It was quite tasty but still felt healthy because of all the fresh green stuff in it. It may look like a lot of greenery, but trust me, you still get all that meatloafy flavor that you’re looking for.
Mean Green Meatloaf Machine
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (or plain with dashes of dried oregano & basil)
2 Tablespoons skim milk
1 1/2-2 lbs. Laura’s lean beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch spinach, stems removed & leaves chopped (3-4 cups)*
1 cup flat -leaf parsley, chopped
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
1/3 cup ketchup, divided
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
Kosher salt & Fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with a little non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix bread crumbs with milk and set aside while chopping ingredients.
- In a large bowl using your hands, combine beef, onion, garlic, spinach, parsley, basil, egg, half the Worcestershire, 2 Tablespoons of the ketchup, nutmeg, salt, & pepper, and soaked bread crumbs. Transfer to baking sheet to form into one large loaf or two smaller loaves. (You can also freeze part of this if you are single and don’t want to eat meatloaf for every meal for a week.)
- Mix remaining ketchup with remaining Worcestershire sauce and spread over loaf(ves).
- If making one large loaf, bake for about an hour. If making two smaller loaves, cut the time in half. Bake until the center is no longer pink.
- Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
Next time, I think I will:
- Substitute one of the pounds of beef with 1/2 lb. ground pork and 1/2 lb. ground veal. I make a meatball recipe with this meat combo, so why not use it for a loaf?
- Bake this in a cast iron skillet instead of as a loaf. My mom always did meatloaf this way, and it makes me feel nostalgic. If you decide to do that, lower the oven temperature to 350 and bake for an hour.
- Buy all of the ingredients in one trip. Yeah, I forgot to get enough meat. For the MEATloaf. And I had to head back to Kroger mid-preparation. In my defense, I don’t cook with meat very often, so I kinda forget about that section of the grocery store.
- Pay for convenience and buy prewashed, prepackaged spinach. No idea why I didn’t just do this in the first place. I mean, look at that. I was sorting, tearing, rinsing, spinning. By the time I finished this process Rachel Ray could have made an 8 course dinner.*