Vegetarians and carnivores alike will love this ingenious twist on meat loaf. The meaty-flavored, umami-rich recipe received our Test Kitchen's highest rating. Ordinarily you wouldn't pack a meat loaf into the pan, but since we're using a vegetable mixture, you will to make sure it holds together.
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
2 pounds cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup 1/2-inch asparagus pieces
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vodka or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
How to Make It
Preheat broiler to high.
To prepare meat loaf, cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 12 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel and finely chop. Place bell peppers in a large bowl.
Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
Place about one-fourth of mushrooms in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Transfer chopped mushrooms to a bowl. Repeat procedure 3 times with remaining mushrooms.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 15 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms to bell peppers. Wipe pan with paper towels. Add asparagus and onion to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Add onion mixture to mushroom mixture.
Arrange breadcrumbs in an even layer on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden. Add breadcrumbs and the next 8 ingredients (through eggs) to mushroom mixture, stirring well. Spoon mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; press gently to pack. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155°.
To prepare topping, combine 2 tablespoons ketchup and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; brush ketchup mixture over meat loaf. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes; cut into 6 slices.