There are many things I love about my husband. He considers rollerblading aerobic exercise, has read the entire Harry Potter series and sings 80's hits to our pup, substituting her name into the lyrics. But perhaps the best part of all is the fact that he can cook. The man makes an amazing pork roast, perfect pad thai and his lava cakes are to die for. However, we have very different opinions when it comes to meatloaf. Having grown up eating my mom's to-die for recipe, I have insatiable winter craving for this dish while the hubs, a natural-born Canadian, never at it growing up. Perhaps that's why I was so giddy when he offered to make Spinach Dip Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf for me last week. Oh joy!
So how did I get my Canuck to eat a loaf of meat? Easy! I told him exactly what it was...a giant meat ball. Now I know there are people who debate this point, stating that one has bread while the other has crackers...one is baked and the other pan seared...one has sauced baked on top while the other is sauced after preparation. Excuses, excuses. It's ground meat mixed with eggs, bread and spices. For all intensive purposes, they're the same thing. And the first time the hubs tried my mom's recipe, he heartily agreed.
Being a new convert to one of my favorite comfort foods, I always try to make a meatloaf I know he'll enjoy. Spicy barbecue bacon and buffalo are two of his favorites. But overall, he tends to prefer beef to pork or chicken in his meatloaf. He finds turkey to be a bit dull and dry when served plain, which I can understand. Leaner meats can easily dry out when baking in the oven, leaving you with a dehydrated meat log that nobody wants to eat. That's why stuffing your meatloaf with a gooey cheese dip is the absolute perfect solution.
We're both still obsessed with my homemade spinach dip. It's delicious on crackers, celery, burgers and...in meatloaf! And wonder of wonders, the hub prefers turkey to beef for the spinach stuffed variety. Rich, flavorful beef can easily overpower the mild and garlicky spinach dip. And if you're taking the time to stuff a meatloaf, you want to taste the filling. The spinach and mozzarella in the dip release their juices while cooking, helping keep the ground turkey moist. The chewy, cheesy dip makes the lean turkey a bit more decadent, tricking your body into thinking your eating something far more indulgent than what is actually on your plate. But still, be cautious to avoid over-baking. All the cheese in the world can't make up for that.
This is a super simple dinner that can be thrown together in about 20 minutes after work. The hubs made his own breadcrumbs (*le-sigh*) and it only took him an extra five minutes. To cut down further on prep time, both the dip and the meat can be mixed in advance and stored in the refrigerator for a day. The hubs used our go-to herbed turkey meatball recipe for the loaf itself, mixed up during a study break and stored until I got home from work to assemble. Gotta love the tag team kitchen action.
Stuffed with spinach dip, this is an awesome dinner with crackers to scoop any extra dip off your plate. You could easily pop a few sweet potatoes into the oven next to the meatloaf if you're more a baked potato type. And don't forget to toss a slice between toasted bread the next day for a killer meatloaf sandwich. Yum.
Spinach Dip Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf (serves 4-5)
- 16 oz lean ground turkey
- 1/2 c grated parmesan
- 2 tbs minced onion
- scant 1/2 c whole wheat bread crumbs or panko
- 3/4 tsp dried basil
- 3/4 tsp dried parsley
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 batch Hot & Skinny Spinach Dip*
Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Spray a bread pan with non-stick and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients but the spinach dip. Mix together with your hands until the bread crumbs and spices are equally distributed.
Divide the meat into two halves in the bowl, with one half slightly bigger than the other. Place the bigger half into the prepared baking dish. Spread the meat across the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the baking dish. Transfer the spinach dip into the meat-lined pan and spread with a rubber spatula until smooth (the dip should be flush with the meat).
Flatten the remaining meat with your hands and spread across the top of the spinach dip. Seal the loaf by pushing down the edges of the top layer into the meat on the sides. Place in the heated oven and bake for about 35 minutes, until the meat is browned on top and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove and let cool in the juices for 5 minutes before slicing.
* For a cheesier filling, add an extra 1/4 to 1/3 c mozzarella to your spinach dip.