It's Not Your Mom's Meatloaf

I'm not sure why but there's something so...unappetizing about the sound of meatloaf. I'm not saying it doesn't taste fabulous if done right, but it sounds a bit antiquated. I got to thinking that meatloaf is essentially a giant hamburger without the bun and suddenly I'm able to forget about the name and start salivating. Modernize it a bit with some spinach, mustard and whole wheat breadcrumbs and an old recipe turns mod. And don't worry about making a vegetable on the side...this one packs fresh greens right in the mix. Oh, and I should mention that the name of this recipe holds no disrepect for my own mom, who makes a fabulous meatloaf...I just feel the need to put my own personal spin on things. But let's just get down to the goods, shall we?

Not Your Mom's Meatloaf
1 lb ground turkey
4 C fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 C reduced fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp Worcheshire sauce
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 C whole wheat, seasoned bread crumbs (the 4C brand makes these now)
2 cloves garlic
ketchup
kosher salt
pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in small pan. Saute onions until translucent but make sure they don't burn. Add garlic and saute a bit longer. Remove from heat and stir in Worcheshire sauce and mustard. Let cool while mixing the other ingredients. (Note: at this point, I removed the onion mixture from the pan and put it in a bowl to cool more quickly) In mixing bowl, mix ground turkey, spinach, mayo and bread crumbs. Ok. I know that mayo isn't necessarily a typical ingredient in meatloaf. But since I picked up some odds and ends after work before checking my fridge, I didn't realize that eggs were nowhere to be found. And of course, the other meatloaf components were already mixed and just waiting for one little egg white to bind the whole thing together. So with nary an egg in sight, I tried a 1/4 C of reduced fat mayo in lieu of an egg white, held my breath while the meatloaf cooked (ok, maybe not actually the entire time that it cooked) and hoped for the best.* Once it's all mixed together (oh, and just like with Kathy's Irish Soda Bread, you're going to have to use your own two paws to really get 'er done), shape into a loaf on an ungreased baking sheet. Pour ketchup all over the top and smooth with a spatula, smoothing a bit onto the sides. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, slice, and enjoy! Though turkey can tend to be somewhat less than flavorful, the added ingredients make this recipe moist and delish to boot. No ground beef = ok with me.

*The verdict on substituting mayo? Success! I did fear for a time that I'd have ground meat and spinach running all over my oven, but instead, I got a firmly packed, yummy meatloaf.๏ปฟ

So what do you think? Are you a fan of meatloaf? How do you make it?

Recreate it: Penne with Turkey Sausage & White Wine Reduction

Last week, my fab friend Lindsey and I discovered a sweet little Italian restaurant called La Carbonara. A tiny restaurant with exposed brick and illuminated by candles, La Carbonara serves up delicious Italian fare with a modern twist. In addition to a bottle of Montepulciano (an Italian red wine, which at $25 a pop is a major steal for any Manhattan restaurant), I dined on orecchiette with broccoli rabe, sweet Italian sausage and cherry tomatoes, the latter of which quite honestly, I can't seem to get out of my head. At a sweet $9.95, this dish had all the right flavor moves and was served in a manageable portion - something virtually unheard of in an Italian restaurant. So with the orecchiette in my head for the last week, I decided to recreate it in my very own tiny kitchen. And I have to tell you, with some subtle substitutions to fit my own culinary parameters, I think it came pretty darn close to the original. Oh, and did I mention that it's healthy to boot? Full of fresh veggies and turkey sausage, this dish is destined to make my weekly repetoire. Check it out...

Pasta with Turkey Sausage & White Wine Reduction
1 box pasta of your choice (I couldn't find orecchiette, so I went with penne)
1 lb. turkey sausage, removed from casings
1 pkg grape tomatoes
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1C white wine (I used a cheap-o Pinot Grigio)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
parmesan cheese
kosher salt
pepper

Cook pasta according to box directions. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet and add tomatoes which have been sliced in half. Add garlic and kosher salt, sauteeing until soft and they start to smell heavenly.

When desired heavenlyness is reached, remove from the pan and set aside. In that very same skillet, you'll cook the sausage. Remove the sausage from their casings (this is easily done by cutting a slit down the center of each one and removing the skin by hand...it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it...oh, and wash your hands after this part) and add to the skillet which should still be hot. Let's face it, turkey sausage just doesn't have the same flavor as the real thang, which is why you should get the pan super hot with some olive oil before adding the sausage. Resist the urge to break it up immediately as you want to let it brown a bit. This will provide some great, and necessary flavor. Once it starts to brown on the bottom, you can start breaking it up and turning it over until all browned. Now comes the fancy schmancy reduction part. Remove sausage from pan. Deglaze said pan with 1 C white wine, scraping up the brown bits from the tomatoes and sausage as you go. Oh, and the beauty of cooking with wine? The chef gets to sample along the way (for research purposes, of course). Bring to a boil and reduce by half (that's the reduction!). Add turkey and tomatoes back in and sprinkle generously with parmesean cheese. Add spinach and stir until it wilts.

And it looks like this...

Serve over pasta and prepare to be hooked.

So that's how I recreated a fabulous restaurant dish in my very own apartment kitch. Have you ever tried to recreate a restaurant dish at home? How did it turn out?

Psst...I did in fact make another turkey sausage pasta dish, which you can find right here...but I must be honest and tell you that this newer one really hit it out of the park! For a variation, check out the old one.