Scrolling through Facebook, I saw this “simple” meatloaf recipe, and thought why not? Just as there are loads of meatball recipes, so goes it with meatloaves. And yes, it really was quite simple. If you make up the mix in the morning, you can then just pop it into a preheated oven for one hour before dinner; just make sure to let it rest for 10 minutes afterward.
*A trick I learned ages ago to eliminate some of the fat, is halfway through the cooking time, fold up a few paper towels and pat up the grease that has risen to the top. At this point I add a few ladles of the pasta sauce on top and return it to the oven. Once you cut out the first slice, you can then use a baster to suck up the remaining liquid/fat. Another approach is to form the loaf free-style and place it on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
Whichever method you prefer, do not overwork the meat mixture when combining all of the ingredients, otherwise it will be dense and tough. The key is to keep it loose, soft and airy.
We paired ours with a Roasted Bell Pepper and Tomato side dish which cooked at the same temperature as the meatloaf. With some of the leftovers we combined it with cooked pasta and more of the sauce used for the meatloaf topping.
1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (marinara sauce, homemade, meatless)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ground pork and beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Try not over handle the mixture, otherwise it will get tough.
Place the mixture in the greased loaf pan, and form into a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce. (*Or follow the approach mentioned above.)
Place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and drain any grease from the meats at this time.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese.
Place the meatloaf back in the oven, and bake until the cheese is melted.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven, and let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
This pasta dish, loosely based on a sausage and eggplant ragù from Sicily, is ideal for summer because it uses in-season tomatoes and eggplant. In addition, the pasta is cooked directly in the sauce so there’s no need to heat up the kitchen with another large pot of boiling water. And it was hot as blazes the night we made this for dinner.
Hot Italian sausage adds a little spiciness, but I know many of my peeps out there in foodland can’t tolerate much “heat” so go ahead and use sweet sausage if that’s your preference. However, to be frank, it was just mildly spicy even with the hot version. In fact, we doubled the amount of meat to almost a pound (8 ounces seemed rather paltry). No need for us to remove casings because we bought it in bulk, which is a time-saver if your local grocery store sells it that way.
Don’t stir the tomatoes more than just once or twice after adding them to the pot. Uncovering to stir releases heat and slows the rate at which the tomatoes burst and release their juices. However, do make sure to stir regularly after the pasta is added to prevent the starchy noodles from sticking to the pot.
The sauce came out nice and creamy, and with the extra meat—OK, and a few more tomatoes—there was definitely plenty of leftovers.
Cavatappi with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes and Eggplant
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 Pints cherry or grape tomatoes
1 Small red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8 Oz. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 Qt. water
1 Lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 Lb. cavatappi pasta; or campanelle or gemelli
¾ Tsp. grated nutmeg
1 Cup lightly packed fresh basil, torn if large
Finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano, to serve
In a large pot over medium-high, combine the oil, tomatoes, onion and 1½ teaspoons salt. Cover and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the tomatoes begin to burst, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the sausage and cook, uncovered and using a wooden spoon to break up the meat and tomatoes, until the sausage is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the eggplant. Add 1 quart water and bring to a boil. Stir in the cavatappi (or other pasta), nutmeg and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and maintaining a vigorous simmer, until the pasta is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the basil.
Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with cheese.