Meat loaf can transport our taste buds to another time, place

03/11/2014 6:20 PM

03/11/2014 6:21 PM

Think of meat loaf as an edible time capsule.

A simple mixture of ground meat and seasonings bound with eggs and breadcrumbs, meat loaf has the ability to transport taste buds to another time and place.

To Mom’s kitchen, where fat slabs are doused with ketchup.

To the all-night diner, where it stars on the weekly blue plate special.

To the frou-frou restaurant, where well-heeled diners clamor for a glamorous truffled version of what was once considered working-class fare.

Meat loaf changes with the times because its list of ingredients is highly elastic: The cook can easily stretch the meat with filler or embellish it with exotic ingredients.

And that flexibility is good news for anyone who can’t bear to give up a sentimental favorite just because traditional versions are frequently loaded with fat, cholesterol and calories.

The Star’s recipe for Vegetable-Stuffed Meat Loaf combines lean ground beef and turkey with a vegetable medley. (Anyone remember the Knorr instant vegetable soup mix meat loaf recipe?) The mixture is bound with egg whites to cut cholesterol and rolled oats, which offer the benefit of a whole grain. Unlike ketchup, the tomato juice and balsamic vinegar used to baste the meat loaf do not contain high-fructose corn syrup, an ingredient health experts point to as a major contributor to the nation’s obesity crisis.

Cooking tip: To evenly distribute the mixture of carrots, mushrooms and zucchini in this meat loaf, we roll it up before cooking. When sliced, the colorful spirals make for an attractive presentation.

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