Mmmm, Mmmm, Good! Italian Meatloaf

Meatloaf has earned a reputation as a comfort food. And today we needed/wanted comfort food. You know those days….I’m sure you’ve had one at some point. People have their own favorites of what they consider comfort food and what they turn to at this time. Me? I turn to Italian food. Hubby wants “meat.” So this recipe fit for both of us.

What I found interesting with this meatloaf is that it is partially cooked in a bath of tomato sauce. It helped the meatloaf maintain a very moist texture. This meatloaf is filled with seasoning so you could substitute ground turkey for the ground beef and preserve the rich flavors. This is a great recipe for a crowd, or Sunday dinner. And if you’re making it for a dinner for two, you’ll have some tasty leftovers!

While I was making this I was tempted to shape the loaf it into a giant meatball – wouldn’t that be fun? I may do that next time. 🙂

Grate the onion – makes the onions blend easier with the meatloaf ingredients.

Mix with your hands. I wasn’t that thrilled to do this, but it really helps combine the ingredients without over-mixing.

I usually have several packets of tomatoes in the freezer made with end of the season tomatoes from the garden. This one is labeled “base” which means that it is the tomato base to make any kind of sauce that uses tomatoes.

While I used my homegrown tomatoes to make this meatloaf sauce, the original version of this recipe used crushed canned tomatoes or tomato passata. TheKitchn defines it:

“Passata is an uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins. It originated in Italy but is used throughout Europe. Some passatas are chunkier and some are smoother, depending on the brand.”

You can purchase jarred or canned passata at many grocery stores. If you can’t find it by that name, crushed or pureed tomatoes are a good substitute. Or if you want to make your own, here is the recipe:

Tomato Passata

Makes approximately 4 cups

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  • 15 Fully ripened medium to large tomatoes
  • 1 Large, finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tbls Olive oil
  • 4 Pealed and chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbls Finely chopped basil
  • 1 tbls Sundried tomato paste*
  • 1 tbls Tomato puree*
  • 1 tsp Course ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste


  1. Liquify the tomatoes, garlic, basil and black pepper in a blender or food processor.
  2. Gently fry the red onion in olive oil until golden. Add to blender and pulse a few times.
  3. Pour tomato contents into a large frypan and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the sun dried tomato paste and tomato puree and thoroughly mix.
  5. Simmer, stirring frequently for 10 - 15 minutes and reduce until you have the perfect passata.


*Sometimes when I make this I omit the paste and puree. Tomato mixture will be thinner.


Calories: 876 cal
Carbohydrates: 198 g
Fat: 7 g
Sodium: 587 g
Protein: 40 g
Fiber: 49 g
Add seasoning to the fry pan of tomato sauce.

Place half-cooked meatloaf into crock and add tomato mixture.

Serve with side of pasta, potatoes, and/or vegetables.

This recipe has a few steps to it, but worth it — believe me!

Italian Meatloaf
Serves 6-8
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  1. • 1½ cups diced red bell pepper
  2. • 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. • 2 cups stale white bread, crusts removed, roughly diced (about 3 slices)
  4. • 1 small onion
  5. • 2 tbsp cream (or milk)
  6. • 13 oz ground pork
  7. • 1.6 lb ground beef
  8. • 2 eggs
  9. • 2½ tsp fennel seeds
  10. • 3 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
  11. • 1¾ tsp salt
  12. • Pepper
  1. • 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  3. • ½ onion, finely chopped (brown, white, or yellow)
  4. • 1.4 lb (22.4 ounces) tomato passata or crushed canned tomatoes (use 1 can 15 oz and 1 can 8 oz)
  5. • 2 tsp dried Italian herbs
  6. • 1 - 3 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  7. • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an average sized loaf pan, then line with parchment / baking paper, leaving paper overhanging the edges of the pan. This will assist you when removing the meatloaf after it is partially cooked.
  2. Heat oil over high heat in a fry pan. Add bell pepper, leave for 1 minute without stirring so it starts to char (burn), then stir and continue cooking to char it more (about 2 minutes in total). Remove and set aside.
  3. Place bread in a large bowl. Grate onion into the bowl. Add cream, then use your hands to mix the bread and onions together. The bread should be completely soaked and soft.
  4. Add remaining meatloaf ingredients, including bell pepper. Use your hands to mix it together until JUST combined. Do not over mix otherwise it will become dense.
  5. Press mixture into the loaf pan. Drizzle with olive oil then bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Take the meatloaf out of the oven. Carefully lift the meatloaf out of the loaf pan (using the paper overhang) onto a work surface. Then transfer the meatloaf into the pan or crock with the sauce.
  7. Pour juices in the loaf pan into the skillet. Return to the oven for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
  8. Take meatloaf out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  9. Serve the meatloaf with the sauce, garnished with parmesan if desired.
  1. Heat oil in a ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes on the stove, adjusting salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Remove sauce from the stove and follow the steps above to place the meatloaf in and bake it.
  1. Option: If you would rather substitute an Italian sausage for the ground pork, then also eliminate the fennel seeds, cut back the bell pepper by half, and only add 1-2 teaspoons of the paprika.
  2. Do not add the red pepper flakes unless you like your food really spicy as the meatloaf already has a spicy flavor.
Adapted from Nagi from RecipeTin Eats
Adapted from Nagi from RecipeTin Eats
Christina's Food And Travel
If you missed the previous meatloaf recipes posted earlier this blog, here they are: This Isn’t Your Mother’s Meatloaf, and Hello It’s Me – Turkey Meatloaf.

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