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Lee's Kitchen: Taking the mystery out of meatloaf

A couple of Fridays ago I went with friends to Sneekers in Groton, something I do most Fridays nights. I love the restaurant’s regular menu, their specials menu and often their old person’s menu, also called the early bird menu.

That particular evening’s specials offered meatloaf. When I ordered it from Kelsey, our usual waitress, she looked sad. They were out of it, she said. I was sad, too.

Did you ever wonder why anyone would choose meatloaf at a restaurant? Truth be told, most people love meatloaf, but they don’t like their parents’ or spouse’s meatloaf. I don’t even like my own meatloaf, which I make with ground beef, Stove-Top stuffing, an egg or two and ketchup. I just make it for meatloaf sandwiches, which I love.

So meatloaf is a conundrum or an enigma. The latter is a confusing or difficult problem or question, while the latter is something that is mysterious, puzzling or difficult to understand. Winston Churchill called Russia “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

I wanted to make a meatloaf that didn’t taste like a meat brick. I found a Food Network recipe on the Internet that called for vegetables in a meatloaf. I changed it a lot and it was just delicious as an entrée and even cold as a sandwich

Sauteed Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze

Adapted from Food Network’s Bobby Flay’s Throwdown

Serves 6 to 8


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded, finely diced

1 medium orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded, finely diced

1/2 large sweet potato, peeled, finely diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 pounds ground chuck (or combination of beef, pork or veal)

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or parmesan cheese

1 cup ketchup, divided

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, divided


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers and sweet potato and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until almost soft, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute or two. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together eggs and herbs. Add meat, crumbs, cheese, half the ketchup and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and the cooled vegetables and mix until just combined. Mold the meatloaf on a large oven-proof glass pan or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I always mold my meatloaf like a flattened oval, so everyone gets some of the tasty crust.)

Whisk together the remaining ketchup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and brush the mixture over the entire loaf.

Bake the meatloaf for approximately 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 to 15 minutes, before slicing.

Lee White lives in Groton. She can be reached at


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