I love making meatloaf: it's easy (WAY easier than meatballs), it freezes well, the leftovers taste good, and I can get grass-fed ground beef pretty easily. After much tweaking, this is the recipe I use.
For a long time, my husband was absolutely insistent that I add an envelope of onion soup mix whenever I make meatloaf (and I have to admit it does taste pretty good). I tried other options: fresh sauteed onions, onion powder, none of it was sufficient. However, I finally discovered an awesome alternative: Penzeys Fox Point seasoning. If you don't want to use it, you can (a) just use onion soup mix (b) make your own slightly-less-gnarly version of onion soup mix as per the Cook's Thesaurus recipe (scroll down to "onion soup mix"; vegetarian bouillon is usually just powdered veggies so I'd use that) or (c) just use salt and pepper instead.
I add a box of cooked and well-drained frozen spinach to this, just to add nutrition. I always keep boxes of spinach in the freezer because it's such a cheap and easy way to pack lots of green veggies into dishes like meatloaf, burgers, frittata, and so forth. I also use a bag of frozen mirepoix to keep things simple. The texture is kind of mushy but it's fine in meatloaf.
I've experimented with different grain-free binders including stuff like almond meal or coconut flour and ultimately my favorite is to use dried mushrooms that I grind to a powder, along with grated parmesan. These add flavor while also soaking up extra liquid. You could get away with excluding the dried mushrooms, but the loaf probably won't hold together as well. You might experiment with adding extra eggs and/or egg whites.
I like making an all-beef meatloaf because I can reliably get grass-fed ground beef (this week I got some from Deep Creek Ranch via the Birdhouse Buying Club). Usually meatloaf mix also includes ground veal (and ground pork), which contains extra natural gelatin and contributes to moistness. To compensate, America's Test Kitchen suggests adding a little powdered gelatin to an all-beef loaf, so I do the same.
Really, it's just a solid base recipe that you can probably tweak to your heart's content! Meatloaf is really hard to mess up :)
- 1 10oz box frozen chopped spinach
- 1 bag frozen mirepoix, OR 1 medium minced onion + 1 minced celery rib + 1 minced garlic clove + 2 Tbs parsley
- Fat of choice for sauteeing the veggies
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp gelatin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 3-4 Tbs Penzeys Fox Point seasoning or appropriate substitute (see description above for suggestions)
- 1 Tbs soy sauce or tamari (strict soy/wheat/sugar avoiders can use Red Boat fish sauce instead)
- 1 Tbs dijon mustard
- 0.5 oz dried mushrooms (I used shittake), ground to a powder in a spice grinder or food processor
- 1.5 oz (about 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs) grated parmesan cheese
- 2 lbs ground beef
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cook the spinach according to package directions. Drain it VERY well by squeezing it against a sieve. Set aside.
- Saute the vegetables in a pan over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato paste, combine thoroughly, and take the pan off heat to cool.
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the broth in a very large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Add all remaining ingredients (including the reserved onion mixture and spinach) and combine very well using your hands.
- Pack the meat mixture into a loaf pan (or shape into a free-form loaf shape and set it on a baking sheet or broiler pan). Bake at 375 for an hour. Let cool for 10-20 minutes before slicing. Serve with mashed faux-tatoes.