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Better Meatloaf

Better Meatloaf

Photo by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post

This meatloaf gives you the hearty, moist and meaty meal you crave in a better-for-you way thanks to three easy tweaks and add-ins. Quick-cooking oats are used here because of their finer texture.

Not only does it make for a heartwarming dinner, like a good meatloaf should, but it makes for an excellent lunch the next day, hot or cold.


1 small zucchini (6 ounces; peeled if desired)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, half finely chopped, half cut into thin rings

1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90 or 93 percent lean)

3/4 cup quick-cooking oats

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons molasses

1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard

One 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grate the zucchini on the large-holed side of a box grater. Place the zucchini into a strainer or colander in the sink (to drain) while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they soften slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the tomato paste until the mixture is evenly coated. Remove from the heat.

Use your hands to squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the grated zucchini.

Beat the eggs lightly in a mixing bowl. Add the ground beef, oats, Worcestershire sauce, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt, all the black pepper, the onion-bell pepper mixture and the zucchini, mixing with your hands until just incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, then shape it into a loaf about 5 inches wide and 2 inches tall.

Stir together the molasses, mustard, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the tomato sauce in a large liquid measuring cup. Pour half to two-thirds of the sauce over the meatloaf, enough so the sauce covers the top of the loaf and drips down the sides a little, but without much overflowing onto the pan. Reserve the rest of this ketchup-like sauce to serve alongside the finished meatloaf.

Arrange the thinly sliced onion rings on top. Bake (middle rack) for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees.

Let the meatloaf rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: Calories 240; Total Fat 12g (Sat Fat 4g); Protein 21g; Carb 13g; Fiber 2g; Cholesterol 100mg; Sodium 560mg: Sugars 5g


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