I know what you are thinking... 'uggh, meatloaf, my grade school cafeteria nightmares!' I hear ya. I was never really a fan of meatloaf until Mark introduced me to his Italian-Style Meatloaf with a Garlic Tomato Sauce, and now I can't get enough of this, and I request it often.
What makes it Italian-Style?
You may have had the traditional meatloaf, typically made with ground beef, maybe some veggies are thrown in there, and topped with a bbq sauce or some type of weird ketchup-based sauce. Nothing about that is Italian. Nothing. But this version has all the Italian flavors you love and enjoy and makes your home smell amazing while it's cooking. Also, the garlic tomato sauce you could literally use as a pasta sauce without thinking twice!
What goes in the meatloaf?
Our favorite version, and what we included below in the recipe includes a trio of ground meats - beef, pork, and veal - in equal parts. This combo gives the meatloaf a much better flavor, and it balances out the fat since you are using one very lean meat (veal), one medium (beef), and one fatty meat (pork). But you can play around with this and determine what combo or ratio of meats you prefer.
Additionally, we add a generous amount of chopped onions, red bell peppers, celery, and parsley to give each bite extra flavor. The bread crumbs are in there to help bind the meat better along with the eggs, and we definitely recommend that you use Italian bread crumbs for this recipe. Obviously you can see here that we want the meatloaf to stand alone without the need for a sauce, so this one is anything but bland! The addition of a touch of cayenne also gives it a nice heat.
What about that Garlic Tomato Sauce?
This sauce is gold! Literally. I'm very into drenching my food in sauces, especially when they are as tasty as this one. And it is super easy to make, and is mostly done in a food processor. Don't shy on making the entire recipe of sauce, you will want all of it for this Italian-Style Meatloaf. Prior to serving, we spread the sauce over the top, then slice the meatloaf and serve.
What is the best way to cook meatloaf?
Since this is technically shaped like a loaf of bread, you will make this meatloaf in a loaf pan (check out our favorite loaf pans HERE). I prefer to line the loaf pan with parchment paper in order to easily remove the entire loaf prior to slicing and serving.
The oven is by far the best way to cook this Italian-Style Meatloaf. We often use our countertop toaster oven if we want to limit the amount of heat in our house that comes from using our oven, especially in the middle of that hot Texas summer!
If you give this recipe a try, please let us know how you liked it in comments below! Or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine.
In the mood for more Italian dishes? Check out some of our most popular Italian-inspired recipes below: