Not just another meatloaf……This is an Italian Meatloaf smothered in the most incredible tomato marinara sauce. Cooking the meatloaf partially submerged in the sauce makes the meatloaf extra tasty and extra juicy – not to mention all the flavour from the meatloaf dripping into the sauce!
I promise I am not exaggerating. This is not just “another meatloaf” with ground beef/mince mixed together with some random Italian herbs.
Oh no. This is so much more than that! THIS is made in the spirit of homemade Italian sausages. Have you ever made Italian sausages? I have. They taste amazing. They require speciality equipment to ground pork shoulder, electronic scales to get the exact amount of herbs and salt, and of course the sausage machine to pipe the sausage mixture into the casings.
I don’t have all that equipment in my humble kitchen. But I’ve manage to recreate the flavours in this ridiculously delicious Italian meatloaf!
As I alluded to above, the seasonings for this meatloaf are akin to homemade Italian sausages. However, I make my meatloaf with a combination of beef and pork, rather than just pork which is what Italian sausages are made of. The pork adds juiciness, the beef is the main flavour base. 🙂
The crowning glory of this is the tomato sauce. Oh my. THIS is the key differentiating factor in this recipe. Most meatloaves are not made with a sauce. But there are 2 things that make this sauce seriously delicious:
- I add the juices in the meatloaf pan into the sauce. Why throw out free flavour??
- The meatloaf finishes cooking IN the sauce. Which means all the juices from the meatloaf releases into the sauce AND the base of the meatloaf sucks up the marinara sauce flavour. Win win!
LOOK how juicy this meatloaf is! I use my secret tip to make this with bread soaked in grated onion rather than breadcrumbs. It’s the same technique I use for my Italian Meatballs that readers are raving about!
I know I rambled a bit, so here’s a quick recap of why I love this Italian meatloaf so much and why it is not like the usual:
- It actually does taste like it is Italian. It tastes like a meatloaf beef version of Italian pork sausages, thanks to the subtle combination of beef and pork mince (ground meat), red bell peppers/capsicum and fennel seeds;
- The Sauce is made extra tasty by adding the meatloaf pan juices into the sauce AND by cooking the meatloaf for part of the time IN the sauce. Flavour on flavour on flavour!
- I swear, the meatloaf is made even juicier than usual by cooking it partly submerged in the sauce. It surely must suck up some liquid??
- I also use my technique to soak bread in grated onion rather than using breadcrumbs. My theory for why this makes a difference is that the bread crumbs expand when cooked, creating little air pockets. The use of grated onion also makes this meatloaf extra tasty. This is the same technique I use to make my classic Italian Meatballs extra soft and juicy.
Have I convinced you yet that this is worth trying? 😉 – Nagi x
- 1 1/2 cups diced red bell pepper / capsicum (1 large)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups stale white bread , crusts removed, roughly diced (about 3 slices)
- 1 small onion
- 2 tbsp cream (or milk)
- 13 oz / 400 g ground pork (mince)
- 1.6lb / 800 g ground beef (mince)
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 3 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped (brown, white, yellow)
- 1.4 lb / 700 g tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes (Note 1)
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tsp dried Mixed Italian Herbs
- 1 - 3 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Spray a 28cm/11" loaf pan, then line with parchment / baking paper, leaving overhang (Note 2).
Heat oil over high heat. Add capsicum, leave for 1 minute without stirring so it starts to char (burn) then stir and continue cooking to char it more (about 2 minutes in total). Remove and set aside.
Place bread in a large bowl. Grate onion into the bowl, using a normal box cutter (Note 3). Add cream, then use your hands to squidge the mixture together so the bread is completely soaked and starts to disintegrate.
Add remaining meatloaf ingredients, including capsicum. Use your hands to mix it together until JUST combined. Do not over mix otherwise it will become dense.
Press into the loaf pan (Note 4). Drizzle with olive oil then bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the Sauce.
Take the meatloaf out of the oven. Carefully lift the meatloaf out of the loaf pan (using the paper overhang) onto a work surface. Then transfer the meatloaf into the skillet with the Sauce.
Pour juices in the loaf pan into the skillet. Return to the oven for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the meatloaf with the Sauce, garnished with parmesan if desired.
I like to serve this with mashed potatoes but it is also lovely with pasta.
Heat oil in a ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.
Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes on the stove, adjusting salt and pepper to taste.
Take it off the stove. Follow the steps above to place the meatloaf in and bake it.
1. Tomato passata is pureed tomatoes, plain, without any salt or other flavour additions. Nowadays it is readily available at supermarkets, usually in the pasta section. It costs around the same as tinned tomatoes. If you can't find it, use crushed tinned tomatoes (you can use a blender to puree it if you want, to turn it into passata!).
2. "Overhang" simply means using a bigger piece of parchment/baking paper than you need so you can lift the meatloaf out of the pan by holding the paper.
3. A box grater is the standard old school grater that you use to grate cheese. Nothing fancy!
4. If you don't have a loaf pan, shape into a loaf and place it onto a baking tray.
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.