Saturday, May 11, 2013

Caprese Turkey Meatloaf...Featuring Rao's Garden Vegetable Sauce

Hands down, my favorite jarred tomato sauce is Rao's. Rao's, the impossible-to-get-reservations New York Italian restaurant, has a fabulous line of home products! I tried their marinara sauce on the advice of my friend Andie a few years ago, and I was instantly hooked. Yes, it's more pricy than most store brands...but I promise that it's worth every single penny. Sure, I can make a pretty mean homemade amatricianna sauce. But, it's time consuming...which means it's something I only do a few times a year. The rest of the time? Rao's all the way. It's the only brand of pasta sauce I use in my kitchen, and we always have a jar or two in our cupboard for whipping up a quick weeknight meal. I was thrilled when Rao's Specialty Foods offered to send me a couple of jars of their Garden Vegetable Sauce to create an original weeknight meal for you!

I had never seen this flavor on my store shelves, and we really liked it. It's full of chunky veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. It's so hearty on its own that you could easily add some penne and grated parmesan cheese for a simple dinner. I decided to use it to flavor a new spin on meatloaf: Caprese Turkey Meatloaf. Imagine all your favorite caprese salad flavors in an individual-sized turkey meatloaf. Since this is Healthy Eating Month, I used 93% lean ground turkey and lots of healthy add-ins to flavor this meatloaf. 

The individual meatloaves were ready for the oven in about 20 minutes. While they cooked, I tossed up a salad and some potatoes to serve on the side. By the time the sides were done 30 minutes later, the meatloaves were just about ready to come out of the oven. I had a company-worthy meal ready in less than an hour start to finish. With Rao's Garden Vegetable Sauce in the meatloaf mixture and on top, it was a double dose of deliciousness!

Caprese Turkey Meatloaf
a Weekend Gourmet Original

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375. Add the following ingredients to a large mixing bowl: 1.25 lbs. 93% lean ground turkey, 1 cup Rao's Garden Vegetable Sauce, 4 finely chopped basil leaves, 1 large shallot chopped and caramelized in 1 tbs. olive oil, 1 seeded and diced Roma tomato, 1 large egg, 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into bite-sized cubes, and seasoning of your choice. I used 1 tsp. salt, a few grinds black pepper, and 1 tbs. of a salt-free onion-garlic seasoning.

Step 2: Using a sturdy spoon or pristinely clean hands, combine all ingredients until they're just evenly combined. Be careful not to overwork or your meatloaf can come out tough. Shape into four individual loaves and place on a rimmed baking sheet that's been covered with parchment or foil. Trust me...this will make cleanup infinitely easier!

Step 3: Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the meatloaves are cooked though and starting to brown. Place a  personal meatloaf on each plate and top with more of the Rao's Garden Vegetable Sauce that's been warmed in a saucepan. To really make the caprese flavor pop, top with a few more fresh basil leaves if desired.

This meatloaf was out of this world...juicy and full of robust flavors. Because ground turkey can sometimes be a bit dry, adding some of the sauce inside the meatloaf base kept it moist and juicy. We loved the melty pockets of mozzarella and the chunks of mushroom and pepper. When healthy food tastes this good, you won't feel deprived at all. This  meatloaf paired really nicely with a simple green salad and potatoes. If you love caprese salad, make sure to give this meatloaf a try!

Disclosure: Rao's Specialty Foods sent me two jars of their Garden Vegetable Sauce to facilitate this post and the recipe I developed. All opinions expressed are mine.

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