For years after my boarding school days I absolutely refused to even consider meat loaf as a legitimate type of food. Let alone one that I wanted to eat.
But I’ve always been a huge fan of meatballs and burgers and all things ground (minced) meat. And after falling in love with my meat ‘diamonds’ I decided it was time to tackle the humble meatloaf. Surely I could work some magic.
And so I did. I was thinking of ways to keep my meatloaf super succulent. And was reminded of how carrot cake and my zucchini cake had such beautiful texture. Surely the same principle could apply in savoury form.
Long story short, it does. This meatloaf has it all. Deeply flavoured from the beef and the tomato. And so so moist. Even my boys love it.
Oh and for the adults, choose a delicious sauce to turn it into a real treat.
Super Moist Meat Loaf
- 1 kg ground (minced) beef
- 2 medium zucchini (courgette) (300g / 10oz) for the meatloaf
- 8 medium zucchini (courgette) to roast and serve
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- tomato pesto or other sauce to serve
- 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley , mint or basil to serve
Turn your oven to 200C (400F). Grate 2 zucchini and sliced the other 8 into coins about 1.5cm / 1/2in thick.
Line a loaf pan (approx 24cm x 12cm (9in x 5in)) with baking paper. In a medium bowl combine meat, salt, tomato paste and the grated zucchini. Use a clean hand to squeeze and mix until the zucchini is evenly distributed. Press the meat mixture into the tin and smooth the top.
Place the sliced zucchini in a large roasting tray. Drizzle with a little oil and scatter over a pinch of salt.
Place meatloaf in the oven on the middle shelf. And slot the zucchini in on the shelf below. Set your timer for 55 minutes.
When the timer goes check the meatloaf. It should be deeply golden and shrinking away from the sides of the pan. If you have a thermometer make sure the internal temperature is 71C (160F) or above. Remeber the tomato paste give the meat loaf a slightly pink colour even when cooked.
To serve cut meatloaf into generous door step slices. Drizzle over the beautiful juices. Top with the sauce. Toss the herbs in with the zucchini and serve the roast veg on the side.
Variations & Substitutions Moist Meat Loaf
short on time – roll the meatloaf into meatballs and bake on a tray 250C (480F) for 15-20 minutes.
keto / ultra low carb – skip the zucchini.
vegetarian – am thinking a lentil loaf with egg to bind would be lovely – but would need to experiment first –
nightshade-free – replace tomato paste with grated parmesan or almond meal.
more substantial (carb lovers) – serve with crusty bread or cooked pasta.
more substantial (low carb) – bigger slices! And more sauce.
Low FODMAP – skip the zucchini.
different vegetables – onion or carrot will work in place of the zucchini in the meatloaf. Feel free to serve with any roast veg. Also great with cabbage.
different protein – any ground (minced) meat will work.
more fancy / for entertaining – serve with another side salad like my reliable cabbage salad or these sunny parisian carrot bowls (without the extra protein). I’ve also served a middle eastern version with almond hummus and tabbouleh and pomegranate seeds sprinkled over – super pretty!
Problem Solving Guide Moist Meat Loaf
bland – more salt! And a more delicious sauce. Try a splash of Tabasco or Sriracha if you like it hot.
too dry – overcooked meatloaf or your meat was too lean. Next time check earlier and / or use a different butcher. For now a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil will help.
no oven – form the mixture into burger patties and pan fry. Pan fry the extra zucchini or just serve the burgers with a green salad instead.
too much liquid – you’ll get the lovely zucchini and meat juices collecting in the sides of the pan – it looks like a lot but when you serve it out drizzled over the meatloaf you’ll be surprised that there’s isn’t as much as you’d think.
sticking to the pan – be sure to line your loaf pan with baking paper. Allowing to cool slightly before serving can help.
Prepare Ahead Moist Meat Loaf
Absolutely! Just cook as per the recipe but keep the zucchini and mint separately. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or can be frozen. To serve, warm in the oven 200C (400F) for about 20 minutes or pan fry slices to warm more quickly.
Recipes Similar to Moist Meat Loaf
- Green ‘Spaghetti’ & Meatballs
- Burgers with Mint & Almond Salsa
- Roast Cauli with Meatballs & Tahini Sauce
- Spinach Feta Burgers
- Feta & Meat Balls
- Fast Friday Cheeseburger Bowls
Have fun in the kitchen!