I have made my turkey meatloaf recipe constantly over the years. It wasn’t so long ago that this was Little Guy’s favorite, but now, sadly he is going through a phase where he would rather live on chicken nuggets and pizza. This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Light Recipe cookbook. However, I recently discovered another recipe for turkey meatloaf that used Quinoa instead of breadcrumbs as a binder. Not only does this make the recipe gluten-free, but loads the meatloaf with healthy whole-grain. I liked the quinoa recipe, but it lacked the flavor and veggies that my turkey meatloaf had. So I combined my well loved recipe with the quinoa, and the result was the best of both.
This meatloaf is packed with everything needed for a healthy meal; lean protein, healthy grains, veggies, lean dairy and lots of flavor. So, even if the little ones eat nothing else, they are still getting a full meal. Little Guy is on board too. At first it was begrudgingly, but he kept eating after his requisite four bites. That’s a major success in my house.
As usual, I disguise the veggies by chopping them up very fine. The carrots (an addition of my own) help lighten the texture, add an additional sweetness to the meatloaf and also add even more veggies to the dish. I use around three carrots for a two pound recipe, and pulse them and onions in a food processor until very fine before sautéing them in a tiny bit of oil until tender. I know that purists out there will argue that chopping the onions in a food processor will make them bitter, but I can’t tell and I don’t have time to Bruniose onions and carrots these days, so the food processor handles the job for me.
I don’t have problems getting my son to eat the green specks of parsley and thyme in this dish because when he was less opinionated I explained that the Italian seasoning on his pizza were magic sprinkles that made everything taste good. Ever since then, when he sees me adding fresh green herbs to things, he just asks if the magic sprinkles are going to make it taste good. I highly recommend this approach! However, if your kid is of the nothing-green ilk, then you can leave the herbs out.
This recipe calls for two pounds of ground turkey and makes either one large loaf or two smaller ones. With all my kids still small, we only need half of this recipe for our family. I always use fresh, never-frozen ground turkey when I make this so I can freeze half and have a freshly baked meatloaf for another night. I do not add the sauce before I freeze it, and thaw it thoroughly before baking. Then when I’m ready to bake it off, I mix up a half recipe of the sauce and bake as normal.
If you are using previously frozen turkey and you still want to make a full recipe of meatloaf and freeze half, just bake it before refreezing (although I think the rule about never refreezing meat is a bit silly if you are careful with the way the meat was thawed and handled). You can also half this recipe and just make up one pound of turkey.
It’s healthy, it tastes good, its gluten-free and full of healthy grains. Your kid will like it, so just make it already. ’nuff said! Enjoy.
Kid Friendly Veggie-Full Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf
Adapted from The Best Light Recipe and this Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf Recipe found on allrecipes.com
This recipe splits and doubles very well. The baking times I list are for two loafs per recipe, but this bakes very nicely as a full two pound loaf as well. Baking times will increase to 45 minutes for the first bake, then add the second half of the glaze and bake for about another 15 minutes. Always cook the meatloaf until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
1/2 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup carrots, peeled and rough chopped (about 1/2 pound)
1 medium onion, peeled and rough chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Crystal
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
2 pounds 93% ground lean turkey
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring one cup of water and the quinoa to a boil in a small pan.
Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for twenty minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool fully. While the quinoa is cooking pulse the onion and carrots separately in a food processor until very finely chopped but not pureed.
Heat a skillet over medium heat with one teaspoon of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and carrots with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Cook, stirring frequently until the onions and carrots are soft, but not brown, about ten minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Turn off the heat and allow the vegetables to cool.
While the quinoa and carrot and onion mixture are cooling, combine the yogurt, eggs, thyme, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt in large mixing bowl.
When cool, add the quinoa and vegetable mixture and combine everything together.
Mix in the ground turkey and mix until uniformly combined. Separate the mixture into two even amounts and form each one into a loaf about 9”x5”x1” on a lined baking sheet.
Combine the ketchup, brown sugar and cider vinegar in a small bowl and coat each meatloaf with about 1/4 of the sauce leaving the other 1/2 for later in the baking process. If you are only baking one meatloaf and freezing the other, only make a half recipe of sauce with 1/4 cup of ketchup, two tablespoons brown sugar and one tablespoon of cider vinegar.
Bake the meatloaf for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and coat with the remaining sauce. Return to the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.