Vegetable-Stuffed Meatloaf is one of my favorite meals, packed full of healthy vegetables and bursting with flavor, it is pretty much a one-stop-shop for everything we crave in comfort foods. But the meatloaf I make is far different from the one that my mother used to make. There wasn’t enough ketchup to make that one palatable to me.
One of the things I do differently is that I do not use a loaf pan to cook the meatloaf. It doesn’t need it. I form the mixture into a loaf shape on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven. The entire surface is exposed to the heat and develops a lovely crust.
I also do not add breadcrumbs, an egg, or cheese, making this vegetable-stuffed meatloaf naturally gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free. Because of the lack of fillers, this is full of protein and quite filling. Any leftovers you have also make fantastic sandwiches the next day!
My mother, as wonderful as she was, didn’t enjoy cooking and did it because she had to. Cooking was a chore for her and she never used any seasonings beyond salt and pepper. I grew up learning to cook mostly from my grandmother and became enamored with cooking and baking. Following recipes became a fun challenge. I loved the idea that adding herbs and spices could completely change the flavors of ordinary foods, elevating them to meals that my family applauded.
My father was thrilled when I started making meals for the family and reading cookbooks like others did classic novels. Cooking became my personal form of science experiments and creative outlet.
If your kids don’t like eating vegetables (like most of us when we were young), they will get a full serving in this delicious meatloaf because the vegetables are combined with the meat. If they are so picky that they will meticulously remove each visible piece of vegetable, there is a way around this. Sauté the vegetables as directed but use a saucepan with tall sides. When they are very soft, add a little of the tomato juice or chicken or vegetable stock to the pan and use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the vegetables. Fold this into the meat mixture for all of the healthy benefits without children being able to see chunks of vegetables!
I hope you give this vegetable-stuffed meatloaf a try. It will have you rethinking the old classic and may just become a standard for your future family dinners.
Have a wonderful weekend – see you back here next week for Chocolate Monday!
Key Ingredients for Vegetable-Stuffed Meatloaf (Gluten Free):
- Paprika, thyme, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, ancho chile powder
- Ketchup or chili sauce, olive oil, onions, red bell pepper
- Celery, carrots, tomato juice, lean ground beef or pork and beef blend
Why don’t you use a loaf pan to bake the meatloaf?
You don’t need the loaf pan, you can form a loaf shape on a baking sheet easily and you get more crust with more exposed surfaces.
Finely chopped vegetables will help keep the meatloaf from falling apart. If the pieces are too big, it is harder to form it into a loaf. Kids are more likely to eat the meatloaf if the veggies are finely chopped too!
How to make Vegetable-Stuffed Meatloaf (Gluten Free):
- Mix together the dry seasonings to create a blend; mix together the topping ingredients and set aside
- Sauté the onions, peppers, celery, and carrots until softened; add half the seasoning blend then cool the mixture; puree if you have children who won’t eat vegetables
- Mix together the vegetable mixture with the tomato juice then add the ground meat(s) and remaining seasoning mix; mix together well with your hands and form into a loaf form on a sprayed baking sheet
- Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 350°F or until the internal temperature registers 163°F to 165°F on an instant read thermometer
- Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving with potatoes and a green vegetable if desired
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Immersion blender
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Mixing bowls
- Half sheet baking pan
- Instant read thermometer
This meatloaf does not contain any breading or filler eliminating the primary source of gluten. Using ancho chile powder helps guarantee that there won’t be any filler in your seasoning mix. Penzey’s brand is gluten-free.
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1-1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal brand
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder, optional
- 1/4 cup ketchup or chili sauce
- 1/2 tsp ancho chile powder, optional
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp organic olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup very finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup very finely chopped celery
- 1 cup very finely chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup tomato juice or V-8 juice
- 1-1/2 to 2 lb lean ground beef, or a blend of ground pork and beef
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a baking sheet lightly with non-stick vegetable spray (without flour in it). Set aside.
- Make the Seasoning Blend: Combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to thoroughly blend. Leave out the ancho chili powder if you are cooking for children or for those with sensitive stomachs; set aside.
- Prepare the Topping: Mix together the topping ingredients and set aside.
- Make the Meatloaf: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, celery, and carrots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add half of the seasoning mix. Cook, stirring often, about 1 more minute. Remove from the heat; transfer vegetables to a large bowl to cool, tossing often. Purée with a little of the tomato juice and an immersion blender if you have children who won't eat vegetables.
- When cool enough to handle, combine the cooked vegetable mixture with tomato juice, stirring well. Add the ground meat(s) and remaining seasoning mix. Use your hands to incorporate everything thoroughly and evenly distribute vegetables and seasonings.
- Bake the Meatloaf: Transfer the meat mixture to the prepared baking sheet. Press into a free-form loaf shape about 3 to 4 inches high, compacting slightly. Brush the top with the topping mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Spin the baking sheet so that the front of the meatloaf is now facing the back of the oven. Continue baking for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf registers 160°F to 165°F.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes while you finish making the rest of the meal. Slice and serve with roasted or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable such as steamed broccoli or peas if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 863Total Fat: 45gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 295mgSodium: 1135mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 95g
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