I'm a huge fan of basil pesto, so this year when my garden had lots of basil I went into pesto-making overdrive. Now I have an abundance of Basil Pesto with Lemon in my freezer, so I've been pondering new ways to use pesto. Pesto ideas had been swirling around in my head for a few days when I had the thought of adding some pesto to turkey meatloaf to bump up the flavor. Of course it's hard to come up with a recipe that someone hasn't thought of already, and when I searched for "turkey pesto meatloaf" I found that quite a few other people had the same idea. The recipe here was adapted from Turkey Pesto Meatloaf at Culinate, although I did make quite a few changes for the version I ended up with. My Turkey Pesto Meatloaf has a generous amount of pesto, and I used tomato sauce mixed with a little balsamic vinegar to top the meatloaf, a combination that went well with the pesto. I loved this variation on meatloaf; hope other people will enjoy it too.
Finely chop an onion and saute it until it's starting to brown, then add minced garlic and saute about 2 minutes more.
I freeze my pesto in bags that are sealed with a FoodSaver, so the pesto stays good all winter. I freeze it in ice cube trays or mini muffin tins so you can take out a few cubes and reseal the bag.
Basil Pesto with Lemon with 1.5 pounds of lean ground turkey for this recipe.
Put the ground turkey, sauteed onions and garlic, pesto, Parmesan, salt, and whole wheat breadcrumbs in a bowl that's big enough you can get your hands in there to mix the ingredients.
I bake my meatloaf on a roasting pan like this one from the thrift store, which lets the extra fat drip down. I love to make those diagonal slits in the top of the meatloaf, but they are totally optional!
It's best to use a meat thermometer for poultry, because at the time the inspiring recipe said the meatloaf would be done, mine had only reached an internal temperature of 141F, and ground turkey needs to be cooked to 160F to be safe.
Turkey Pesto Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce
(Makes 4-6 servings, or about 8 slices of meatloaf; recipe adapted from Turkey Pesto Meatloaf at Culinate.)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 T finely minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey (use ground turkey with less than 10% fat for South Beach Diet)
1/4 cup basil pesto (I used my homemade Basil Pesto with Lemon, but good quality purchased pesto will be fine.)
2 T finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup 100% whole wheat breadcrumbs (make in the food processor from 100% whole wheat bread if you can't find whole wheat breadcrumbs)
1/4 cup low-sugar marinara sauce (I used Classico tomato and basil sauce)
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Take the turkey out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prep the other ingredients. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Spray a roasting pan with olive oil or nonstick spray (preferably a pan with some slits to let any extra fat drip out.)
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the onion with medium-high heat until it's starting to slightly brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, lower heat slightly, and saute about 2 minutes more.
Using a bowl that's large enough to get both hands into it, combine the ground turkey, sauteed onion and garlic, pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt, and whole wheat breadcrumbs. Use clean hands to mix the ingredients, just until they are combined.
Form the mixture into a loaf shape and place on the roasting pan. I like to use a butter knife to make diagonal slits into the top of the meatloaf, but that's optional.
Bake meatloaf for 40 minutes. While it bakes, stir together the marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar and after 40 minutes use a pastry brush to brush it onto the meatloaf, until it's completely covered with sauce. Continue to bake, brushing with more sauce a few more times if you have some left, until a meat thermometer shows a temperature of 160F/71C. I cooked my meatloaf for a total time of one hour and twenty minutes before it got to that temperature. Serve hot.
This freezes well. For best results, thaw in the fridge before reheating.
South Beach Diet Suggestions:
For South Beach Dieters, it's important to use lean ground turkey, whole wheat breadcrumbs, and low-sugar marinara sauce if you're making this recipe. I buy ground turkey that has only 7% fat, which is perfect for this. Make your own 100% whole wheat breadcrumbs if you can't find any, and choose a marinara sauce with the lowest amount of sugar you can find. With those ingredients, this would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn's Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I'm sharing there.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you're a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.
More Delicious Ideas with Basil Pesto:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Easy Baked Pesto Chicken from Kalyn's Kitchen
5 Easy Ways to Use Basil Pesto from Kitchen Gadget Girl
Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes from Kalyn's Kitchen
Healthy Lasagna with Turkey, Pesto, and Peppers from Cookin' Canuck
Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Parmesan ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)