Thursday, February 09, 2012

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf Recipe with Tomato Sauce

A little basil pesto in this turkey meatloaf really bumps up the flavor!

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.

I used 1/4 cup of 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.

Then use clean hands to mix the ingredients together just until they are combined.

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!

While the meatloaf cooks, mix together some low-sugar marinara sauce with a little balsamic vinegar.

I cooked the meatloaf for 40 minutes before I started basting with the sauce.

After 40 minutes I brushed on a thick coating of sauce and continued to cook.

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.

I continued to brush the meatloaf with sauce and cook for a total cooking time of 1 hour 20 minutes.

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 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 recipe.  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.

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
Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes from Kalyn's Kitchen
5 Easy Ways to Use Basil Pesto from Kitchen Gadget Girl
Healthy Lasagna with Turkey, Pesto, and Peppers from Cookin' Canuck
Spinach Pesto Lasagna from Cooking on the Side
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.) counter customizable free hit
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  1. Hey, I'm using up my pesto too!!! I do the basic totally boring toss it with pasta, because I am not clever and creative like you.

    1. Oh Pam, you are plenty clever and creative! (And I eat lots of it with spaghetti too!)

  2. Oh, man. My family would go nuts over this. We are huge pesto in anything fans.

  3. Very pretty blog. I love turkey meatloaf. I love your header. I will be back. I am glad to have found your blog.

  4. This sounds great, and I love the diagonal cuts and the fact that you just cooked it right on a roasting pan! Great idea. I want to make this. :)

  5. Summer pesto, you can't go wrong! This looks awesome!

  6. Yum, love the idea of adding pesto to turkey meatloaf. I've never used a thermometer to test for doneness, but it makes complete sense.

  7. Thanks for the nice thoughts about this everyone! Jeanette, I was glad I used a meat thermometer or it would have definitely not bee completely cooked.

  8. Pesto inevitably brightens up/betters everything it touches. This meatloaf is definitely a cut above the rest!

  9. This sounds delicious! I love the pesto and the tomato flavors :)

  10. I made this yesterday, and it was amazing! Even my kids liked it! Thanks for the recipe -- this one's a keeper!

  11. So glad it was a hit, especially with the kids!

  12. Adding pesto to a meatloaf is a great idea!

  13. This is the absolute best meatloaf I have ever made! Love all your South Beach recipes that I have tried. Thanks for making these available to those like me who do not have a creative gene in their bodies! Gail

  14. Gail, so glad you enjoyed it!

  15. This turned out great! Probably the best meatloaf I've ever made. I substituted almond meal for the bread crumbs to have it for phase 1, and added an egg.....I couldn't help it, I've always made meatloaf with an egg. But it was awesome!

  16. My husband had a hankering for meatloaf and we are on the South Beach diet. Having never made one, I didn't know what to expect but it was delicious! He enjoyed it too. The only thing I did differently was bake in a loaf pan and used pre-seasoned breadcrumbs b/c that is what I had on hand. YUM.

  17. Thanks for this recipe, Kalyn! It sounds like the PERFECT thing to make tonight, as I need to use the turkey and pesto in the fridge, and had no idea what to do with it!

  18. I just made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! I have a 10 year old daughter that kept going back for more!

    As I was mixing this up I thought this would make a good meatball recipe! I'm going to give that a try next time!

  19. Rachael, so glad you liked it. I think this would make great meatballs.

  20. very moist and really enjoyed with spaghetti squash and sautéed greens...thanks!

  21. Thanks Lisa, so glad it was a hit!


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