Meatloaf Florentine

Meatloaf Florentine

I have a long personal history with meatloaf. (Or “meatload,” as my fingers always seem to want to type. Same thing, basically.) When I was a kid, my mom’s meatloaf served as a catch-all cloaking device for whatever bits and scraps remained in the refrigerator or pantry at the end of a given week (month? year?). It’s understandable when you realize that she was a single mom trying to make the best of a narrow budget, but as a child, I had no appreciation for this aspect of meatloaf-making. I just remember watching with mounting distaste as carrots, spinach, rhubarb–was that oatmeal?–disappeared into the mixing bowl, and wondering why a raw egg needed to be part of this process. Just observing the assembly of meatloaf had me convinced before my first bite that this was quite likely the most disgusting food ever invented. And then it came out of the oven–a craggy, rectangular meteorite from the part of space where they stare you down with unflinching meat-and-spinach eyes. I may have only been five years old, but I knew I was


Eventually, after a classic parent-child battle of the wills involving sitting at the dinner table until almost bedtime, I grudgingly accepted defeat and picked up a piece of (now cold) brown meteorite and willed myself to eat it. And it was indeed wretched. (Sorry, Mom! You make lots of other delicious things!) Meatloaf quickly rocketed to the top of my Least Favorite Foods list.
And stayed there until I tried this recipe.


This Meatloaf Florentine comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cleaner Plate Club, which focuses on helping kids eat healthier. (A little ironic, considering my meatloaf backstory. Also, I now want to start a band called “Meatloaf Backstory.”) Having made several other recipes from this cookbook that were all excellent, a few years ago I decided to loosen my meatloaf boycott and try this out. After all, how could you go wrong with ingredients like fresh herbs, garlic, roasted tomatoes, and parmesan cheese mixed into what amounts to a giant meatball? You can’t! This recipe turned out to be a true delight. It has become a signature dish at our house. Isn’t it amazing how much our opinions can change when we decide to re-think long-held beliefs? It almost seems like meatload–er, meatloaf–has taught me a life lesson.

Meatloaf Florentine

Meatloaf Florentine
(Adapted from The Cleaner Plate Club)


1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. mixed fresh herbs–mostly basil, with rosemary and/or thyme
1/4 c. roasted tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef, bison, or a mix


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until soft and light golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, add all remaining ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Spread meat mixture evenly in the pan. Bake uncovered for 60 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

One thought on “Meatloaf Florentine

  1. I love this book too. Isn’t this supposed to have spinach in it? I think that’s knid of what “florentine” means.

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