Monday, November 5, 2012

green meatloaf

We are fans of meat in this house, as I'm sure you've noticed. I'm always interested in finding new and interesting flavor combinations for meatloaf, especially ones that don't require bread crumbs. I've often had good luck using minced mushrooms in place of bread crumbs in my meatloaf mix, and a recipe I recently found on NomNomPaleo incorporating spinach looked really tasty so I figured I'd give it a try.

The problem with me and recipes, however, is that I tend to find them and think "oh boy that looks good, I'll try that!" and then proceed to basically not follow said recipe at all. It kind of sits there off to the side, looking forlornly up at me and trying to catch my attention as I go totally off the rails, usually in the opposite direction. Fortunately, I tend to end up with things that taste good none the less.

So, having made that point, I will tell you the details of my loaf:

I finely chopped three ribs of celery. three smallish carrots, and about a dozen small button mushrooms, and sauteed them with three chopped slices of bacon until the veggies were soft and the mushrooms had released their liquid. Meanwhile, I microwaved a package of frozen spinach until it was thawed but not super hot. I dumped it into a strainer and let it drain, and put about a pound and a half of ground beef into a big bowl. I added onion powder (I didn't have any fresh onions on hand, which is crazy, I know) and garlic powder, some thyme, some chopped parsley, salt, black pepper, and ground mustard. I cracked in a couple eggs, then added the sauteed veg mix and the well-drained spinach that I had squeezed as much liquid as possible out of. I squished it all together with my hands (my favorite part!), formed it into a loaf, and set it on a rack fit inside a lipped cookie sheet. I took a few extra strips of bacon and carefully laid them across the loaf, smoothing them down to wrap the meatloaf. It went into a 350 degree oven for about an hour - I pulled it when the internal temp hit 150 and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Loaf of meat wrapped in bacon? Don't mind if I do!

For a side-dish I did roasted butternut squash, which is super simple. I used to HATE squash of all descriptions because the only way my mom ever made it was pureed and the texture just gagged me (sorry, Mom). When I discovered that many winter squashes could be roasted and would get a little crispy on the outside but stay soft and fluffy on the inside, I was a happy camper. Butternut squash is a good candidate for this treatment - you just have to make sure that a) you toss it in plenty of oil before it goes in the oven and b) you cook it long enough at a hot enough temperature. I did mine on the bottom rack of the oven at 450 degrees for about 35 minutes, flipping all the chunks about halfway through, and it came out perfectly - nice and crisp on the outside, soft inside. I actually dusted the squash with cumin before roasting, which was good, but next time I think I might use garam masala or regular curry powder, even.

Tasty, veggie-laden meatloaf
The addition of the spinach to the meatloaf didn't really effect the taste at all, but it did add extra nutritional goodness. As you can see from the picture, I could have diced my carrots a bit more tidily and smaller, but it tasted good, chunky carrots and all.