A Leaner, Meaner Meatloaf

You can see the grated carrot that gives this quinoa-fortified turkey meatloaf exceptional moistness.
You can see the grated carrot that gives this quinoa-fortified turkey meatloaf exceptional moistness.

When I say “meatloaf,” you go “Yeah, baby!”

When I say “turkey meatloaf,” you go “Uh, okay.”

And when I say “turkey quinoa meatloaf,” do you groan, “Ehhh?!”

If so, you reacted just like my husband when I first proposed making this for dinner.

And like him, you’ll surely be won over from the first moist, flavorful bite.

“Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf” is a recipe from the new “The Art of Pantry Cooking” (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Ronda Carman, a lifestyle writer and former recipe contributor to Southern Living.

As the name implies, the book’s 100-plus recipes make use of pantry basics that we all do — or should — keep on hand.

What’s more, the chapters are even arranged by ingredient. For instance, got a half-bag of bulgur lying around? Then, make “Lemon-Bulgur Ricotta Pancakes” or “Hearty Tomato Soup with Bulgar.” Hiding a can of chickpeas in the back of a cabinet? Dig it out to use in “Lemon-Parmesan Chickpea Pasta.” Have some leftover panko? Whip up “Sheet-Pan Panko Lamb Meatballs with Walnut Chimichurri Sauce.”

Admittedly, I’ve had a quarter bag of quinoa in the pantry since before the pandemic. So, when I spied this meatloaf recipe, I knew I had found a good home for it.

This meatloaf is made entirely with ground turkey, but is not dry in the least. That’s because diced onion and grated carrot give it a boost of moisture.

The fluffy quinoa after cooking in chicken stock.
The fluffy quinoa after cooking in chicken stock.

The quinoa first gets cooked in chicken stock to add flavor, before being mixed into the turkey, along with garlic powder, onion powder, fresh garlic, paprika, cayenne, and tomato paste. Eggs bind everything together.

The crowning touch is a sauce of light brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce that gets brushed on all over the top before the meatloaf goes into the oven.

You know how aghast you are whenever you pull out a cooked meatloaf to see all the oil that has pooled around it? You get only a smidge of that with this one.

But just because it’s leaner does not mean it’s lacking in any way.

The meatloaf bakes up tender with loads of sweet, smoky red peppery, worldly taste. The brown sugar-Worcestershire finish gives it a wonderful savory, slightly sweet taste that enhances its meatiness. The quinoa adds a subtle nuttiness, and a fluffier texture to the meatloaf.

Serve slices with potatoes such as the “Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes” with scallions that I made. Or snuggled inside a Dutch crunch roll for a dynamite sandwich.

And the next time you hear someone suggest putting quinoa in meatloaf, go right ahead and cheer fervently.

A homey dish that's a little more nutritious than the standard.
A homey dish that’s a little more nutritious than the standard.

Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

(Serves 6)

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

1 shallot, finely diced

1 large carrot, grated

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds ground turkey

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Bring the quinoa and stock to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, shallot, and carrot. Saute until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, place the turkey, quinoa, onion mixture, tomato paste, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, eggs, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to mix until combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on the prepared baking sheet.

Combine the brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Brush over the top of the meatloaf. Bake in the preheated oven until the meatloaf is cooked through or an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees when inserted, 55 to 60 minutes. Allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with parsley and serve.

From “The Art of Pantry Cooking” by Ronda Carman

More Meatloaf Fun: Duck Meatloaf (Or Burgers)

And: Lamb Meatloaf with Mushroom Pan Gravy

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  • I think a lot of us have a quarter bag of quinoa in our pantry that we’re trying to forget about. 🙂 Anyway, this looks good. I never make meatloaf for some reason. Which is a shame, because it’s so good. And the leftovers are great in sandwiches! Good stuff — thanks.

  • Hi John: I wonder if everyone has a quarter bag of quinoa forgotten on the back shelf. LOL And I can’t believe you’ve never made meatloaf before. This recipe is your must-try then. 😉

  • Excellent! Thank you for this uncomplicated, delicious recipe!

  • Hi Joanne: You are so welcome! It’s really delicious, too. Enjoy!

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