Meatloaf gets a bad rap. It’s one of my favorite meals and has been since I was a kid. I think most people don’t enjoy it because they’ve had a bad experience with a dry or under seasoned meatloaf.
I prefer meatloaf that is loaded with diced veggies and uses oatmeal as a binder instead of breadcrumbs. The texture from the oatmeal is amazing and it helps to keep the meatloaf from falling apart.
This meatloaf recipe is a combination of the recipe found on the Quaker Oatmeal containers and my grandmother’s meatloaf. She sliced baby carrots into thin rounds and added them to her meatloaf. I know it may sound strange if you’ve never tried it, but the carrots make it that much better and add another vegetable.
My family has always baked our meatloaf in a large casserole dish rather than a loaf pan. We like that it cooks faster and leaves space around the meatloaf to drain excess grease if a fattier ground beef is used.
This meatloaf is so delicious that one of my friends requested that I make this meatloaf for her birthday dinner. In the South, it’s an honor for someone to like your food so much that they request it for their birthday.
If you’re someone who wants to give meatloaf another try, I hope that this is the recipe that converts you to not only a fan of Meatloaf the singer, but also meatloaf in a pan.
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and dice the vegetables. I chop everything up finely so I don’t saute my vegetables. If you prefer a milder vegetable flavor saute the vegetables until softened and then add to the meatloaf mix.
I save part of my bell pepper, which I cut into strips, to decorate the top of the meatloaf.
In a large mixing bowl add all of the ingredients and stir everything together with a spoon or your clean hands. Use your hands or a sturdy spoon to mix everything together until well incorporated.
Place the mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish and then pat the meat into the shape of a loaf that is about one inch thick. Top the meatloaf with a layer of ketchup (use your spoon to spread it evenly over the top and slightly down the sides. Decorate the top with bell pepper slices if desired or leave it with a ketchup topping only.
Bake uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until completely done. Do not over bake or it will be dry. The thicker your meatloaf is, it may take additional time. Let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
I use a lean ground beef so my meatloaf doesn’t release much grease. If you are using a ground beef with more fat then you will have grease in your pan that will need to be spooned off. One trick is to place slices of sandwich bread in the bottom of your pan under the meatloaf to absorb any grease. The thinner you pat the meatloaf out the faster it bakes. Portioning it out into muffin cups makes for a fast weeknight meal that can be baked in 20-25 minutes.
Note * If you don’t like green bell pepper try substituting red bell pepper instead.*