I tried two meatloaf recipes recently. One was a traditional meatloaf made with ground beef and a balsamic glaze on top. It wasn’t all that great. You won’t see it here. The other is a healthier version made with ground turkey and pesto with a balsamic tomato glaze. This one is blog-worthy. It’s been a hit both times I’ve made it. The leftovers are fantastic whether they’re cold in a sandwich or reheated for another dinner.
Oh yes, I do have a third meatloaf recipe. It was a sensation when I made it for Halloween a few years ago. Have you seen my Meatloaf Hand?
Wait! I have a fourth meatloaf recipe, deep in the archives. I remember it now. It’s also a tasty one using both beef and turkey. And dark beer.
Like all meatloaf recipes, this turkey pesto meatloaf is pretty straightforward. Taking the turkey out of the refrigerator ahead of time will prevent your hands from freezing when you combine the ingredients. Also, don’t keep mixing the ingredients beyond the point of just being combined. I don’t have any experience (that I’m aware of) doing this but I’ve read that over-handling will compress the meat and toughen the meatloaf.
Turkey Pesto Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce
You’ll need a roasting or broiler pan, small skillet, large bowl, small bowl or ramekin for sauce, pastry brush and meat thermometer.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1-1/2 pounds lean ground turkey – This is a pain when ground turkey at your market only comes in 1# packages. I used 2# and increased the garlic, pesto, cheese and breadcrumbs.
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs – Make in the food processor from whole wheat bread, 1 or 2 slices will do it.
- 1/4 cup marinara sauce, preferably low-sugar like Classico (per Kalyn) — I used Barilla, I have no idea of its sugar content.
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Let the ground turkey come to room temperature while you prep the other ingredients, so you don’t freeze your hands. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a roasting pan with olive oil or nonstick spray. I like to use the broiler pan so the fat drips into the moat along the edges.
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion over medium-high heat until it’s starting to slightly brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, lower heat slightly, and sauté about 2 minutes more.
Using a bowl that’s large enough to get both hands into it, combine the ground turkey, sautéed onion and garlic, pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt and breadcrumbs. Mix the ingredients just until they’re combined.
Form the mixture into a loaf shape and place on the roasting pan. Bake meatloaf for 40 minutes. While it bakes, stir together the marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar.
After 40 minutes, brush the sauce onto the meatloaf, until it’s completely covered with sauce. Continue to bake, and if you have any sauce left over, brush the meatloaf a few more times. Bake until a meat thermometer shows a temperature of 160F. I cooked my meatloaf for a total time of one hour before it got to that temperature. Kalyn’s took one hour and 20 minutes.
Original recipe: Turkey Pesto Meatloaf, Kalyn’s Kitchen