Italian Meatloaf (Minus The Meat)

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I was never a meatloaf fan, even during my meat-eating days. Something about it just turned me off (possibly the word meat?). But this, on the other hand, has changed my mind. Packed with healthy, plant-based ingredients and topped with a simple but delicious tomato sauce; this Italian “Meatloaf” recipe is hearty, beyond flavorful and gets my stamp of approval for sure!

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Now there is some prep work involved, but overall, it wasn’t difficult to make. The rice needs to be precooked, but if you are short on time, feel free to buy frozen brown rice instead. I made the rice a day before.

Another thought… some meals just taste better the next day. Have you ever experienced this?  We didn’t have the opportunity to find this out for sure in this particular case because we gobbled the entire loaf in one sitting (yes it was that good)… But I have a gut feeling that if we reheated it the following day, the texture would be more like a meatloaf. Because it was so hot and fresh, it was a bit on the softer side. With this said, you may want to make it the day before or earlier in the morning, let it rest and then heat. Either way, you can’t go wrong, but I just wanted to share my thought!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil (extra for brushing)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 small eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15-ounce) can white beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cooked brown rice, warm

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4 cup vegetable broth

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 tablespoon brown sugar

Instructions: 

1.) Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Brush an 8-inch square pan with oil.

2.) In the meantime, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet and sauté onion and eggplant until soft and lightly browned and vegetables have reduced in size. If vegetables begin to stick, add a little water to the skillet. Stir in garlic and let cook for a minute, until fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl and add beans, rice, tomato, bread crumbs, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and basil. Mix and mash the mixture with a large spoon until the mixture holds together. Adjust seasoning to taste.

3.) Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan and pack it down very firmly using the back of a large spoon.  It is important to pack it firmly so that it holds together while baking. In a smaller bowl, mix tomato sauce and brown sugar. Pour the tomato sauce on top of the meatloaf and cover the top with foil.

4.) Bake for 40 minutes, covered, then remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

*Thanks Chef Chloe for another amazing meal!

 

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