Comfort food usually comes in the form of sweets or carbs for me, but one night last week I found myself craving a homey meatloaf instead. So off to the store I went to buy ground turkey (for the record I just LOVE having a grocery store right across the street) then raided my refrigerator for forgotten vegetables accumulated over the last two weeks.
That’s what’s beautiful about meatloaf, the ground meat (in this case turkey) serves as a fairly clean canvas to add, or paint, other flavors and ingredients. You can go sweet with ketchup and brown sugar, like the meatloaf I grew up eating, or make it savory as I did last week.
Here’s what I found during the raid: leek, garlic, red bell pepper, Swiss chard and a small butternut squash. The first step was to roast the red pepper because it would take the longest (about 20 minutes plus cooling time). I use the broiler method at home because I don’t have gas burners (electric, boo) and the broiler works just as well.
Next I minced the garlic, chard (separating the stems and greens first) and leeks, then sauteed them until very soft because I’m not a fan of crunchy meatloaf. Except for the top of course. A crunchy top is good but the center should be soft. After that, all that was left was to cool the vegetables then mix them with the ground turkey and other seasonings, and bake in the oven.
I did not include the butternut squash in the meatloaf, it just seemed like it would be too much. So instead I peeled, seeded and cubed the squash and roasted in in the oven with a few garlic cloves alongside the meatloaf. Instant side dish!
The best part is how healthy this turkey meatloaf is. First, I used lean ground turkey (not extra lean, I like a little fat for moisture). And second, the vegetables mixed in were extremely nutritious, especially the Swiss chard which is loaded with vitamins A and C.
And in case you haven’t heard yet, I should mention that I had a minor crisis when baking the meatloaf. Rest assured I’ll be okay in time.
Here’s the recipe:
Swiss Chard & Roasted Red Pepper Turkey Meatloaf, makes 1 loaf
1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 leek, white part only, chopped fine
8 stalks Swiss chard, stems and greens separated, chopped fine
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
2 large eggs
20 ounces ground lean turkey
To roast the red pepper: Turn on the oven to broil and line a broiler pan with foil. Coat the red pepper in 1 teaspoon olive oil and set it on the broiler pan. Broil the red pepper 2 inches from the heat source until completely charred, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the red pepper from the oven and place in a metal bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature. Once cool, peel and discard the charred skin and seeds. Chop the pepper.
Reset the oven to 350°F and spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Cook the vegetables while the pepper is roasting: Set a saute pan over medium-low heat and pour in remaining olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the chopped leeks and Swiss chard stems. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chopped greens and cook for 5 minutes, then pour in the wine. Cover the pan and continue cooking for 3 minutes or until the vegetables become soft. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the vegetables to room temperature.
Once cool, mix the vegetables in a bowl with the chopped roasted red pepper and the remaining ingredients. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake at 350°F until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reaches 170°F, about 50 to 55 minutes.
Let the meatloaf sit for 5 minutes before serving with roasted squash or a salad.