Veggie loaded tender meatloaf stuffed with yummy rich tomato ratatouille and ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese. Meatloaf has officially been upgraded.
I did not grow up eating meatloaf, I think my Mom maybe made it once or twice. She was too busy whipping up the latest health food trend or a traditional Hungarian dish (health food + Hungarian food is an oxymoron by the way). When carob, paprika, and tofu take center stage the humble meatloaf gets pushed to the side. None the wiser, we didn't complain.
My first year as a personal chef was a deep dive education in all things meatloaf related, ground beef, turkey or chicken morphed into anything; meatloaf, meatballs, ground beef casseroles (ugh, a shiver just went up my spine!) My main client was a self-proclaimed, lazy chewer and requested only food that was easy on the teeth. Oh, he had plenty of teeth, he just didn't like using them. So I became a meatloaf master. This mozzarella stuffed ratatouille meatloaf was my greatest achievement (my chicken meatballs were a close second).
I made every kind of meatloaf you could possibly imagine; BBQ, Korean, chicken parmesan, Greek, turkey apple sage, kale pesto, white bean rosemary… and I could continue.
There are a few tricks that I learned while making 80 bazillion trillion meatloaves (sp? is that the plural of meatloaf? I should know, but I don't), here they are:
How to Make a Moist and Delicious Meatloaf:
- Use quick-cooking rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs. I found that oats create a superior texture in meatloaf and also increase the nutrient value. Win-Win. (also using gluten-free oats assures a gluten-free loaf)
- Add veggies to your loaf! I grate zucchini into almost every meatloaf I make, it is a great way to add veggies to the meal but also improves the texture of meatloaf.
- Do not overcook. I have seen meatloaf recipes that cook for 2 hours in the oven. I don't get it. I would never cook a hamburger for 2 hours so why a meatloaf? I find that 45-55 minutes is the ideal time depending on how big your loaf is. You are looking for an internal temp of around 155°
- If you are in a rush to get dinner on the table you can divide your meatloaf into 4 smaller loafs for an even faster cook time.
So how about that cheese? Can we talk about that for a second?
My original iteration of this meatloaf did not contain cheese (that was forbidden by lazy chewer), but I started adding cheese when Jordan mentioned that one of his favorite dinners growing up was a mozzarella stuffed meatloaf. Oh, I can do that, I told him.
The cheese addition is brilliant and delicious, but also optional if you don't or can't eat cheese.
The ratatouille is also optional, but…well without the cheese and ratatouille ya just have meatloaf. I often make a large batch of ratatouille and freeze half of it, this is the perfect way to use up those ratatouille leftovers.
You can also make my ratatouille shakshuka! (say that 5x fast!)
To stuff a meatloaf with all the ratatouille and cheesy goodness I form the loaf into a single layer on a cookie sheet (about 1 inch thick) then add the ratatouille and mozzarella cheese, then roll up working away from your body.
You will need to do a little bit of repair work, smacking the loaf into place and mushing the cheese back in. If some cheese escapes during cooking, don't worry about it, this will still be the most crazy town delicious meatloaf you have ever tasted. Minimal chewing required ?
Thanks for reading Abra's Kitchen! If you make this recipe tag #abraskitchen on Instagram 🙂
Mozzarella Stuffed Ratatouille Meatloaf
- 3/4 cup ratatouille
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- In a small saucepan over medium heat saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, and thyme in olive oil until tender. Set aside to cool.
- Combine ground beef, sauteed veggies, zucchini, egg, oats, tomato paste, and all spices in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix well until all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Place meatloaf onto a sheet pan in a 1 inch thick flat layer. Top with ratatouille spreading out evenly. Lay cheese slices on top of ratatouille. Carefully roll meatloaf up, working loaf away from your body until perfectly rolled into a loaf shape. You will need to do some repair work, pat the meatloaf and shape together so all of the ratatouille and cheese is inside the loaf.
- Bake in a 350° for 40 minutes.
- While baking mix together tomato paste, salt, and maple syrup for topping.
- Remove meatloaf from oven, top with tomato mixture, increase oven temp to 400° and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155°.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest before serving.
- I use grass-fed ground beef for this recipe but I've also made it with ground turkey and that works perfectly fine
- The nutrition facts do not include ratatouille, you can find the nutrition information for the ratatouille here
- In a pinch, you can use ketchup in place of the tomato maple mixture
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