Basil Crusted Meatloaf with Spicy Tomato Sauce


Poor little meatloaf. No one understands you quite like I do. Either your maligned by some for being too “common” of a dish, or your made improperly by some of those who believe that Hunt’s Catsup (or is it Ketchup) and bread crumbs is all you need to make it “tasty”.

I know you’re a special dish. Your essentially a lazy person’s sausage, mixing meats and other ingredients to get a different taste. You’re simply put in a loaf pan instead of a casing. Much like a sausage, I know that the more fat, the better. I know to use ground chuck instead of hamburger or even ground loin. I also understand that your best served with a sauce of some sort, be it a tomato sauce or a gravy.

Oh, poor meatloaf. I know I respect you.

Wow, was the above writing kind of creepy? I think I gave myself the heebie-jeebies. But there are some salient points above. If you treat the meat loaf as sort of a “beef-sausage” type of recipe, you’ll get a better appreciation of what you should be shooting for. Mixing meat with eggs and bread crumbs alone is simply hamburger loaf. Mixing it with various spices and yes, even other ground meats leads you to a different path.

Avoid lean ground beef and shoot for the fattier chuck, as it will provide more flavor and has the added benefit of being moister. However, when your done baking the loaf, remove it from the loaf pan and plate it, as you don’t want it to be swimming in the fats and oils that will remain. On to the recipe:


  • 8 oz fresh Basil, leaves only
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 cups chopped prunes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground pepper

Spicy Tomato Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parmesan cheese

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees F.

Place basil in the food processor and start pulsing in order to mince. Leave processor on and drizzle oil into the processor, until you get the consistency you want. Add garlic and pulse 5-7 times in order to incorporate. Transfer basil paste to a small bowl and add salt and pepper to taste, mixing well. Set basil paste aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix ground chuck, garlic, onions, pistachios, prunes, eggs, bread crumbs, brandy, allspice, salt and pepper. Mix well (don’t be afraid to use your hands) and place into a loaf pan. Top the loaf by spreading the basil paste on top. This paste will form a crust while baking, as well as adding a strong basil taste. Can I get a Hallelujah!?!

Place in oven and bake 50 minutes to an hour. It’ll be done when clear juices come out of any poke from a knife.

While the loaf is baking, start the sauce by heating olive oil (over medium high heat) in a medium sauce pan. Add the onions and cook until they start to get this golden-brown color. Add the garlic, coriander, cinnamon and red pepper flakes and mix well into the onions. Cook for two minutes. Add wine and lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, including the juice from the can, tomato paste and bay leaf. Simmer until meatloaf is done.

When you determine the meatloaf is done, remove from the oven and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Slice, plate and top with the tomato sauce and top the sauce the parmesan cheese.

Serves 6

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