Saturday, January 28, 2012

When meat loaf is stuffed in a pepper or a squash rather than a pan

Stuffed red and green peppers
and zucchini and yellow squash
To quote a movie I have watched entirely too many times, "I read somewhere that it's bad form to say yum while you are eating, but yum!"

When you can easily (okay, so my definition of easy cooking might be different than a lot of other people's, but bear with me just for fun) make food this good on your own, why on Earth would you eat processed crap?

I made the stuffed peppers and squash pictured to the left, and wow are they tasty.  Depending on your preferences, they could have possibly done with a bit more seasoning, but I am going to stick with wow and yum.

One large egg, one small onion (finely chopped), one shallot (finely chopped), one rib of celery (finely chopped), three to four cloves of garlic (minced), three tablespoons of ketchup, and about one quarter cup fresh parsley (chopped) were all whisked together in a large bowl.  (As a side note, I purchased a set of Duralex bowls not too long ago, and I love them.  They are lighter than my trusty Pyrex, but I think just as sturdy, and come in many more sizes.)  Salt and pepper were added to season.  (I didn't use much of either.)  Next a generous handful each of Panko bread crumbs and magic cheese (blend of Romano, Asiago and Parmesan) were mixed in.  (If you want to measure, go with 1/4 cup.)  Into the mixture was folded a pound of ground turkey.  Oh, and the innards scraped out of the squash.  (Another side note: a butter knife is excellent for scraping out said squash.)

Peppers (cut in half cross ways with seeds and ribs removed) and squash (sliced lengthwise and hollowed out) were stuffed with turkey mixture, placed in oiled baking dish.  Marinara was spooned over the top, about a tablespoon per pepper or squash half.  The lot was baked for 45 minutes at 400 degrees and then removed from oven and baking pan onto platter where they were sprinkled with a bit more cheese.  More marinara sauce could be added to taste, but these were plenty moist as is.

For me, they make a fine meal on their own, but some rice or cous cous or pilaf on the side might not be a bad idea.  Or maybe a salad and some garlic bread.

Overall, pretty low fat and low sodium -- certainly lower fat than regular meat loaf, which the stuffing ends up resembling once cooked -- except for the cheese, but you could reduce or omit that.  Oats could be substituted for bread crumbs.  I use oats most of the time when I make meat loaf.  The ketchup might be evil (despite Reagan's classification of it as a vegetable ... although aren't tomatoes fruit?) in terms of sodium, but with only three tablespoons in the whole recipe, it works out to something like a teaspoon or teaspoon and a half per serving.  Nevertheless a bit of Worcestershire sauce (which is probably equally evil, if not more so) or balsamic vinegar could be a decent replacement, as could a bit of homemade marinara sauce -- just something to give it a little more flavor and something else besides the egg to bind it all together.  Oh yes, the egg.  Well, again, one egg in the entire recipe, but the corresponding dose of egg substitute ought to work as well.  Otherwise it has no business being called egg substitute.  It should be more like egg approximation.

All in all, an excellent, lower fat meat loaf alternative.  (Once more, I say yum!)

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