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Veggie-Packed Meat Loaf

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

Hands-on time 40 mins
Total time 1 hr, 20 mins

Serves 6 (serving size: 1 slice and about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce)

A little meat goes a long way in this version of the classic--bringing that powerful pop of umami to this mostly plant-based take. You can double up and freeze one for later: Simply cover one loaf in plastic wrap before baking, pressing to remove air. Wrap with heavy-duty foil, and store in the freezer up to 2 months. Thaw completely in refrigerator before unwrapping and baking as directed.


  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • 8 ounces presliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces 90% lean ground beef
  • 3 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Nutrition Information

  • calories 338
  • fat 18.4 g
  • satfat 5.3 g
  • monofat 5.8 g
  • polyfat 5.6 g
  • protein 21 g
  • carbohydrate 24 g
  • fiber 6 g
  • cholesterol 68 mg
  • iron 3 mg
  • sodium 563 mg
  • calcium 223 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

  2. 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 10 minutes or until blackened. Wrap peppers in foil, sealing edges. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel. Finely chop 2 pepper halves; place in a large bowl. Set aside remaining 4 pepper halves.

  3. Reduce oven temperature to 375°.

  4. Place mushrooms in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped.

  5. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 6 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. Cool 5 minutes. Add mushroom mixture to chopped bell peppers.

  6. Place chickpeas and peas in food processor (do not clean from mushrooms); pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Add pea mixture to mushroom mixture. Add 2 tablespoons basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, walnuts, and next 7 ingredients (through egg); gently mix until well combined. Spoon mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155°. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut loaf into 6 slices. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil.

  7. Combine remaining 4 bell pepper halves, vinegar, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Serve sauce with meat loaf.