Loafing Around

By the time April is nearly on its way out, I'm usually looking for every fresh green or vegetable I can find and putting it front and center on our dinner plates. That said, we live in Wisconsin and that means cool days and even an occasional snow shower is still able to find us this late in the season, especially when warmer weather has been loafing around and not making regular appearances here yet. For days like that, I turn to my favorite comfort food: meatloaf.

If seeing the word meatloaf had you rolling your eyes, it might be time to revisit the concept. Instead of a thick block of solid packed meat, imagine a tender loaf of juicy, well-seasoned meat that's dotted with all kinds of vegetables (yes, vegetables!) and given a bubbly barbecue sauce glaze. Now, I call for pepper, onion, and carrot in this recipe, but you can tweak things a bit according to your tastes and what you have on hand. In fact, I used yellow pepper for the tasty meatloaf pictured here. Shredded zucchini and even sweet potato can also work well in this dish. It helps keep things moist and works in a bit more vegetable matter into a meal even veggie-fussy kids will love!

Of course, since it is nearly May, I also tend to serve this comfort food classic alongside a pile of early spring vegetables, but you could stick with some traditional sides like mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. Or try a couple of sides and save the leftovers for another chilly day because we all know we're not done with those yet!

Confetti Meatloaf

This simple meatloaf gets added fiber and vitamins with the addition of diced and shredded vegetables. It's simple to make, freezes well and the addition of barbeque sauce makes it a real crowd-pleaser.
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrot
  • 1 c. toasted bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 c. barbeque sauce, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, pepper, onion, carrot, bread crumbs, egg, seasonings and 1/4 c. barbeque sauce using your hands. Once the mixture has been well mixed, form it into a loaf shape and carefully set it into a loaf pan. Spread the remaining barbeque sauce over the meatloaf and bake it for 40-50 minutes or until the meat is cooked and the barbeque sauce is bubbly.

  • Yields: 1 loaf (about 4 servings)
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour