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Meatloaf with hidden vegetables

A sliced meat loaf on a white cutting board. Showing the inside texture and a few hidden veg.

It has been forever since I made meatloaf. Hubby asked for one so I didn’t want to disappoint. I wanted to spruce it up a bit by adding some vegetables. I’d love you to give it a try and I hope it becomes a family favourite. Its especially good if you’re on a mission to sneak more veggies into your meals!

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This recipe is perfect for those picky eaters, cleverly disguising a healthy dose of vegetables within a moist and flavourful meatloaf. Mince the vegetables until they’re really fine if you want to disguise them, I won’t tell. 😉

Our meatloaf ingredients (and why)

  • Panko Bread Crumbs: I have used dried Panko bread crumbs because they offer great texture and absorb moisture. This helps in keeping the meatloaf soft. If you are avoiding gluten, you can replace Panko with a gluten-free alternative. However, make sure that you maintain a light texture to get the perfect meatloaf crumb, so don’t use superfine crumbs or squash the mix down hard in the tin.
  • Veggie Variations: You can choose any vegetables. In my case, I used the ones that were lying in my fridge and needed to be used. Experiment with different veggies based on your preference or what you have on hand. For instance, if someone in your family freaks out if they see green, then make sure you chop them super fine so that they disappear. Consider using things like broccoli or cauliflower stems, once they’re trimmed there’s nothing wrong with them. I also used capsicum, so there are some red bits in mine, but luckily nobody here is fussy about veggies.
  • Keeping it Moist: To keep the meatloaf moist, either use mince with a high-fat content or add enough veggies and crumbs to hold in the moisture. A little brush of sauce before baking can also help. We’ll get to that next.
  • The Topping: I started this recipe by making a flavour base and then removing a small portion of it to brush on top of the meatloaf before placing it in the oven. You can use sauce straight from the shops and not bother with my method, but I find this helps in marrying the flavours from the inside and out.
  • Serving Suggestion: Pair the meatloaf with a side of mashed potatoes and peas. Or like my Dad used to do, add a light salad for a complete and well rounded meal.
  • Lean Meat: Normally I would suggest choosing meat that has some fat in it, the really lean stuff will end up resulting in a dry meatloaf. But with this recipe, and the addition of vegetables and bread crumbs, you can get away with lean mince. 😉

Meatloaf and the Thermomix Sensor®

This was interesting because I would normally give a recipe like this a longer time in the oven. My training tells me a loaf this size will take around an hour and 20 minutes to cook through. I don’t normally use a probe for this sort of thing, but this time because I’m testing and playing with the new Sensor, I went with it. It took just 1 hour to cook off perfectly. Now, unless all the conditions are exactly the same in your kitchen, I would still cook it for as long as you think it needs to be ready, don’t go pulling it out early just because mine only took 1 hour.

Here’s something I always explain to my students asking about temperature and time settings.

Baking times for meatloaf may vary (Yes, it’s Normal!)

Ever followed a recipe to the letter and still found yourself peeking into the oven, wondering why your dish isn’t perfectly golden brown at the exact minute the recipe promised? Don’t fret! Your culinary skills are not in question. The truth is, that baking is as much about adapting to variables as it is about following instructions. Here are some things you need to consider:

  • Oven Personalities: Think of your oven like a friend; you need to get to know each other. I used my Breville Smart benchtop oven for this recipe, but this oven might heat up differently from yours or have unique hot spots. Calibration and type of oven make a big difference, so let’s not compare apples and, well, ovens.
  • Veggie Variability: Adding veggies? The water content in them can play a big role in how moist your dish is, and therefore, how long it takes to cook.
  • Fat Matters: Not all meats are created equal, and the fat ratio can affect cooking time. Lean might be quick and clean, but a bit more fat often means a juicier, more flavourful bite that needs a bit longer in the oven.
  • The Tin: The material and size of your baking tin can affect how heat is conducted, which in turn affects cooking time. It’s like choosing your outfit based on the weather; some materials just work in different conditions.
  • Spot the Hot Spot: Your oven might have a favourite spot to heat up more than others. Knowing where these hot spots are and rotating your dish can lead to even cooking and avoiding those pesky raw centres.
  • Kitchen Climate: The temperature and humidity of your kitchen can influence your baking, much like how a sunny or rainy day affects your outdoor plans. Just say, I left my mince on the bench the whole time I was making the loaf and it was closer to room temp, but you took yours straight out of the fridge to mix in and cook-off. This can easily alter the time by a few minutes or more.
  • Oven Checking: We all know it’s tempting to open the oven door for a quick look, but try to resist! Keeping the door closed keeps the heat where it should be – with your dish. This is something we had to watch at Bake Club. There is a way you can open and close your oven door to help reduce this effect.

See that’s why I always say when a recipe states a time for baking, it’s a guide, not an exact science.

There you have it! A meatloaf that’s not only a feast for the taste buds but also sneaks in those veggies in the most delicious way possible.

Meatloaf with hidden vegetables

4.67 from 3 votes

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becs-table.com.au
Tasty Meatloaf Surprise. Packed with secret vegetables for a nutritious, family-friendly feast. It can be the hero of a dinner, or used as a delicious sandwich filling.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Course Lunch or dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 10
Method Thermomix and Conventional

Equipment

  • 1 Thermomix (optional)

Ingredients
  

  • 250 g mixed vegetables chopped into cubes (we’re talking broccoli stalks, cauliflower stalks, carrots, celery—sky’s the limit, up to 250g)
  • 100 g onion I choose brown here.
  • 3 garlic cloves because what’s a meatloaf without a hint of garlic?
  • 20 g olive oil for sautéing our base to perfection
  • 50 g tomato paste adds richness and depth
  • 10 g Worcestershire sauce for that tangy kick
  • 30 g Dijon or wholegrain mustard your choice of wet mustard 30g is about a tablespoon
  • 5 g 2 tsp of my special herb blend (or any blend that tickles your fancy) Herb Blend
  • 1 continental beef stock pot or a tablespoon of TM vegetable paste for that umami bomb What are Continental beef stock pots
  • 800 g mince avoid super lean or use the veg and Panko bread crumbs I suggest; we don’t want a dry loaf, do we?
  • 80 g dried panko breadcrumbs see notes for gluten-free options
  • 2 eggs to bind our masterpiece together
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of favourite sauce. I used my homemade BBQ/Tomato but use what you have and like. my BBQ Tomato Sauce

Instructions
 

Thermomix Method:

  • First up you want to get those hidden veg out of the way. I weighed in around 250g of veg I had in the fridge then I blitzed it 4 seconds/speed 5 scraped down and repeated. You can mince at a higher speed if you really need to hide it but I think this texture is pretty good. Remove the chopped veg from the bowl and set aside.
  • Toss the garlic, onion, and olive oil into the Thermomix bowl. Chop for 4 seconds at speed 6, then sauté for 5 minutes at 100°C on speed 2. (I take out the MC for this)
  • Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and herb blend, stir it and make sure it's not sitting on the blades then cook for another 2 minutes. 2min/120°C/speed 2. (MC out again)
  • Scoop out a couple of tablespoons of this mixture and set aside for use as a glaze; this is your secret weapon for a moist loaf later, we will get to that.
  • Throw in the stock pot into the TM bowl through the hole in the lid and let it melt down a bit while you weigh in the rest.
  • Weigh in the mince, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Mix for 10 seconds / reverse speed + 3. Help it along with the spatula through the lid hole. Remove the lid and lift the mix to make sure it's all combined well. Repeat if necessary, until well combined.
  • Transfer this mixture into a loaf tin. Mix the reserved mix with 2 tablespoons of any sauce you like, and glaze to top. You're going to ask, my tin is a USA loaf tin this is the size, you'll have to do a Google search to find one near you.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (356°F) for about 50 minutes. Give it a turn and bake for another 20-30 minutes (or until done). Aim for an internal temp of 70°C (160°F) if you’re into precision like me. I used the new Thermomix Sensor for this recipe and had an interesting discovery. See my notes in the post above.
  • Rest your masterpiece for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This patience pays off in slices that hold together. Or if you are going to serve it cold in sandwiches cool then chill, it will slice even better then.

Conventional Method:

  • Finely chop the onion and garlic, then fry them up in a hot pan with the olive oil until they’re singing.
  • Meanwhile, blitz your veggies in a food processor or by hand to a fine, unrecognizable state if need be.
  • Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and herb blend to the pan, cooking until the tomato paste has mellowed out and that metallic taste has gone.
  • Reserve a couple of tablespoons of this flavour-packed mixture, adding sauce to it for later.
  • Turn off the heat, stir in the beef stock pot to dissolve, and transfer this saucy mix into a large bowl.
  • Add the mince, breadcrumbs, minced veg, and eggs. Mix thoroughly, then lovingly set into a loaf tin.
  • Going back to the mix you put aside earlier, add a couple of tablespoons of your favourite sauce mix well then add it to the top of your loaf as a glaze.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (356°F) for about 50 minutes. Give it a turn and bake for another 20-30 minutes (or until done). Aim for an internal temp of 70°C (160°F) if you’re into precision like me. I used the new Thermomix Sensor for this recipe and had an interesting discovery. See my notes in the post above.
  • Rest your masterpiece for at least 10 minutes before slicing. This patience pays off in slices that hold together. Or if you are going to serve it cold in sandwiches cool then chill, it will slice even better then.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

If you let your meatloaf completely cool or chill it will slice much better.  If you pack the meat down tight in your tin, your meatloaf will be more crumbly and dryer. This happens because the fat and moisture is pushed to the outside rather than kept inside (where we want it).
Breadcrumb Note: For those avoiding gluten, swap out panko for a gluten-free alternative.  But keep the texture light to maintain that perfect meatloaf crumb.
Veggie Variations: This recipe is your canvas.  Feel free to experiment with different veggies based on what you have on hand or your family’s preferences.
Keeping it Moist: The key to a moist meatloaf lies in not skimping on the fat content of your mince, as we’ve used veg and breadcrumbs to keep it moist.  And of course that genius brush of sauce before baking.
Serving Suggestion: Pair with a side of mashed potatoes and a light salad for a complete, comforting meal.

2 Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Ben benieuwd naar meer, heb al een paar recepten gemaakt. Ze zijn allemaal lekker 😋

4.67 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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