Winter is rounding out her days but we try not to complain and just enjoy the quiet comforts of cold, dark days. The upside to the dreary days of February definitely is the hearty foods that beckon from the kitchen and it doesn't get much heartier than meatloaf. Always looking for a healthier version, I used my old staple - ground chicken - and added lots of fresh veggies to 'beef' it up. Remember the Eddie Murphy skit about his mom's homemade burgers? Yep, it looked just like that...green bell peppers and red onion chunks popping out all over the place.
The vegetables gave it great flavor and texture and I threw in a little chipotle pepper to add some smoky heat to the loaf. Served alongside canellini beans sauted in sundried tomato oil and finished with arugula, this meal was fit for the darkest of winter nights.
Lean Chicken Meatloaf
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
1/2 medium green bell pepper, small dice
1/2 red onion, small dice
4 baby bella mushrooms, small dice
2 sundried tomatoes (in oil), small dice
1/2 small chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, small dice
1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup marinara
3 slices thick cut bacon, halved
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the above ingredients, reserving the marinara and the bacon for the top. Combine by gently 'folding' the vegetables, spices and egg into the ground chicken so as not to overwork the meat. Once combined, form into a loaf in a baking dish with raised sides. Cover the loaf with the marinara and arrange the 6 slices of bacon over the top. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven to bake. At 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes for the bacon to crisp. Finish on a low broil for approximately 2 minutes if the bacon doesn't cook through.
Transfer to a serving dish, slice at each strip of bacon for the perfect serving size and enjoy!