This Southwestern Meatloaf is a healthier take on meatloaf- it’s packed with roasted veggies and bursting with yummy Southwestern flavor! It’s gluten-free, and because of all the veggies, it has only half the meat of a typical meatloaf. It’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just like you’d expect from a great meatloaf.
I used a few special tricks to make this meatloaf extra delicious and healthy.
First, let’s talk about the veggies. The thing about vegetables is that they have a high water content, and that water can seep out into recipes and make them soggy or less flavorful. In order to make sure the meatloaf would hold together even with lots of veggies in it, I roasted the vegetables before adding them to the meatloaf mixture. It enhanced the flavor a ton, and the meatloaf held together very nicely.
Because it’s so packed with veggies, I only used 1/2 lb. each of ground pork and ground beef. I love meat, but I also love the idea of eating less meat- it’s good for the environment and good for your health. You can use 100% ground beef, or even ground turkey for a lower fat option, if you want to.
To make this gluten-free and stick with the Southwestern vibe of this meatloaf, I used cornmeal instead of breadcrumbs in the mixture. Traditionally, breadcrumbs help absorb some of the moisture in the loaf and help bind it together. Cornmeal has the same effect, and helps give it a different flavor. Start with only 1/4 of a cup and add more only if necessary. You can also use crushed up tortilla chips and get the same effect! Jut make sure you don’t add too much extra salt if you choose to do this.
Finally, I love a meatloaf that has a crispy crust on the outside and is fluffy on the inside. To get a crust all the way around, do NOT bake it in a loaf pan. Instead, form the mixture into a loaf shape and place on a wire baking/cooling rack nestled into a rimmed baking sheet. This ensures the hot air circulates all the way around and separates the loaf from the drippings, ensuring a crispy crust on all sides. If you don’t have a wire rack, you can just place it on the baking sheet- it won’t have a crispy bottom but it will have a great crust on the rest of the sides. I also cooked it at 350 degrees for the first part, then cranked the temperature to 450 for the last 15 minutes to help the outside brown faster without drying out the inside.
This recipe can easily be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator or freezer until you are ready to make it! This means it’s a great one to double, so you can cook one for now and save the other for later.
Recipe for this Veggie-Packed Southwestern Meatloaf below!
Veggie-Packed Southwestern Meatloaf
- 1 small sweet potato diced (or 1/2 large sweet potato)
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely diced
- 1 onion diced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro plus more for garnish if desired
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup cornmeal plus more if needed
- 1 egg
- Toss the sweet potato, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, garlic, and onion with olive oil and salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are browned and sweet potatoes are fully cooked. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- If baking the meatloaf immediately, turn heat down to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together the roasted veggies, pork, beef, cilantro, corn, chili powder, smoked paprika, cornmeal, egg, and more salt and pepper to taste. For best results, mix with your hands until fully combined. The mixture should hold together on its own- if it does not, it may need more cornmeal to absorb some of the liquid.
- Form the mixture into a "loaf" shape. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the meatloaf for later, or continue cooking.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn the heat up to 450 for 15 minutes, for a total cooking time of 45 minutes (or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees).
- Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with more chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.