Ah, meatloaf—just the thought of it brings me back to my childhood. My mother’s meatloaf was a monthly event growing up, and it never failed to give me the warm fuzzy feeling that only the best comfort food can provide.
While meatloaf is an awesome comfort food, it can also be pretty boring—both in texture and in flavor, there’s not a whole lot going on there. So I was more than a little skeptical when I saw the Beef & Beet Meatloaf recipe in our Feed Zone Table cookbook. How could adding beets to a loaf of beef make it tastier? I should have known better than to doubt the culinary geniuses at Feed Zone, because this simple recipe produced by far the best meatloaf I’ve ever had. Sorry mom, but I’ve got a new go-to meatloaf recipe, and it’s got beets in it.
And the best part is, the recipe’s actually pretty simple. I love to cook, but I tend to shy away from recipes that require more than three or four steps. (What can I say? I’m lazy!) Luckily, this loaf packs a ton of flavor, and basically only requires some chopping and hand-mixing.
As you can see in the above picture, at this stage in the process, the loaf did not look all that appetizing. It looked more like some sort of liquified purple alien guts than something I’d actually want to ingest. I was having my doubts, but I had come way too far to turn back.
Once I got everything together and popped that puppy in the oven, all I had to do was lounge around and wait. About fifteen minutes into the cook, my tiny apartment started to fill with the most amazing scent. My doubts completely melted away. The rich, meaty smell had me salivating—I could not wait to get this thing out of the oven!
After I set my beetloaf out to rest (and waited the ten painful minutes as it cooled to a non-scalding temperature), it was time to dig in. To my surprise, it was love at first bite. The shredded beets gave the loaf structure, sweetness, and a satisfying earthiness. The beets didn’t stand out in the loaf, but without them, this meal probably wouldn’t have been half as good. The rest of the components worked together harmoniously to make this an outstanding meal. Heaps of onion and garlic ratcheted up the tasty factor, and the cheesy breadcrumb topping added a nice contrasting texture.
All of the meals in the Feed Zone cookbooks were designed not only as delicious food, but also as healthy cycling fuel. Even though I’m sure this beetloaf wasn’t the most low-cal recipe in the book, I didn’t feel weighed down by it at all. In fact, I woke up the next morning ready to take on the world. I don’t know if I can fully chock that up to the meatloaf, but either way I’m feeling great about that meal—it made lots of leftovers too!
Beef & Beet Meatloaf
– 1 pound ground beef
– 1 cup red beets (fresh), peeled and shredded (I just used a cheese grater)
– 1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
– 2 eggs, lightly beaten
– 1/2 cup minced onion
– 1 tablespoon minced garlic
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon ketchup
– 1 tablespoon of your favorite Italian seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
– 1 teaspoon coarse salt (I’m a salt fan, so I salted my dish pretty liberally)
– (Though the recipe didn’t call for it, I also added some pepper)
– 1 cup bread crumbs
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Put all of the meatloaf ingredients into a large mixing bowl and work the mixture with your hands until everything is incorporated. Transfer the beef mixture into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top of the loaf as you fill the pan, and put it in the oven to bake for 40 minutes.
While the meatloaf is baking, stir together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle this breadcrumb mixture on top of the meatloaf after it has cooked for 40 minutes. (You can also brush on more ketchup at this point, if desired.) Return the loaf to the oven.
Bake for another 10 – 15 minutes. The meat will shrink slightly as it cooks, pulling away from the edge of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool for a moment before serving.
Most importantly, enjoy!