You might be surprised to know that meatloaf has been around for quite awhile. I'm talking fifth century AD awhile. It's first documented proof of existence is offered up in the Imperial Roman cookbook and the oldest known cooking 101 in existence, Apicius de re Coquinaria. Pre-dating Betty Crocker by quite awhile, the book reveals that the Romans apparently enjoyed their meatloaf as I enjoy everything, with bread and wine, shocking!
Aside from being stuffed with glorious mozzarella, grape tomatoes, and basil, this recipe uses most of the typical American spins on meatloaf, however I left out the ketchup and substituted it with some passata. If you haven't joined my cult of passata, now would be a good time. It's simply pureed and strained tomatoes, shining alone in all their glory. Commonly used in Italy, passata is all that is naturally sweet and delicious. It has no additional ingredients snuck in there. It's also typically sold in reusable glass jars, which I love. I was shocked when I started reading the labels on the canned tomatoes that I used to cook with, so many have added sugar, spices and unpronounceable things. I like my sugar in my cannolis and hate when I discover it snuck into food. Give passata a try, it tastes better and is better for you.
Now get ready to get to business and fight for the center pieces of this delicious cheese stuffed, sweet tomato poppin' meatloaf!
Serving Size Note: This recipe serves 6 - 8
What Do I Need?
1 Lb Ground Beef
1 Lb Ground Pork
1 1/2 Cups of breadcrumbs
4 T Passata
8 Ounces Fresh Mozarella (sliced into 1/4" rounds or strips)
A Dozen Grape Tomatoes (halved)
3 Cloves Garlic (smashed and bashed, "aka" crushed and chopped)
1 1/2 T Basil (It's spring, so I am using dried, but use fresh if you've got it!)
1 T Worchesershire Sauce
S & P
1/4 Cup Passata
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
In a large bowl mix your beef and pork well. In a medium bowl whisk your eggs. Now add your eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, 1 T Worcestershire sauce, 1 T basil, 3 T passata, salt and pepper to your meat mixture. Mix very, very well!
Prepare a baking sheet with some non-stick cooking spray or simply coat with a bit of olive or cooking oil.
Take half of your meat mixture and form the lower part of your meatloaf, creating a gully in the center, spoon in 1 T of passata and spread over the gully, now add your mozzarella spacing it out evenly. Now add your tomato halves face down and sprinkle your remaining 1/2 T of basil on top.
Now it's time to close up your meatloaf. I like to do this in quarter sections to get a nice even amount of meat across the top and not disrupt my caprese center. Close off the sides well and now you should have one glorious mound of meat on your baking sheet.
In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup of passata and 1 T of worcestershire sauce, S & P to taste. Mix well and spread on your meatloaf, making sure to get the sides as well as the top.
Place your meatloaf in the oven for 60 - 90 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 160. Since this is stuffed, make sure to take your meat temperature from a solid end.
This goes great with some roasted Asparagus and of course, as the Romans would suggest, bread and wine.
If you think this is too fancy for meatloaf, my midwestern made husband disagrees. He is a meatloaf purest and loved this!
Take Note: Good meatloaf presentation is a challenge, but my husband had a great suggestion; save a few rounds of mozzarella, top them with basil leaves and lay them across the top of the meatloaf when it has about 30 minutes left to cook. I think if preparing this for a dinner party, it will really elevate it's presentation appeal. I would have done this, if not for the fact that my daughter and I ate all of the extra mozzarella about 15 seconds after cutting it.