Welcome to On Board in 20, a recipe series where we share wholesome, 20-minute meals that are shared family style. The recipes always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and clean up for those busy weeknight meal times. This month’s 20-minute recipe achieves the seemingly impossible in such a short time: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes.
Yes, it’s absolutely possible. You can make Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes in about 20 minutes. I know you what you’re thinking: no way, not me. But yes you, yes way. It’s absolutely possible.
For this month’s On Board in 20 meal series I wanted to put together a truly comfort food recipe. The weather here has been so unsettled and quintessential West Coast fall. Big, blustery storms and on-again, off-again rain that just makes you want to curl up with a blanket, a book and a bonfire. And possibly some baked meatloaf.
Meatloaf is classic comfort food. Add mashed potatoes and you pretty much better plan to eat your dinner in your pyjamas. The challenge with meatloaf during the week is that most recipes require it to bake anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour. For our family, there are several nights during the week where we’re just getting home at 5:00 p.m. and there’s no way my little guy is going to be able to hold off over an hour for sustenance. With a few adjustments, we’re able to enjoy what normally might be a traditional Sunday dinner on a busy weeknight.
There are two reasons meatloaf takes so long: complexity and density. This recipe eliminates both of those elements.
First, complexity. It’s my general opinion that people tend to fuss too much with ground meat. If you start with a quality ingredient, it shouldn’t need much fuss. I kept the seasoning very simple here, with four powders that pack a punch. Garlic, onion, cumin and smoked paprika all go into the mince. The cumin adds an element that’s not always detectable, but noticeable when forgotten. Crack an egg and be prepared to get your hands dirty. There’s a secret ingredient in my meat loaf that pulls double duty. By adding a small amount of puréed prunes (yes, like the baby food) the meatloaf is moist, slightly sweet and even gets some bonus fibre.
Density is the second challenge with meat loaf, because anything as deep as a loaf pan is just going to take time to cook. To address this issue, I simply made the meatloaf thinner and turned up the broiler. It will cook in a fraction of the time.
Like peanut butter and jelly, meatloaf loves mashed potatoes. I rarely use my microwave; it’s by far the cleanest appliance in my kitchen. They kind of scare me, but every once in a while they can be a lifesaver. In this case, the space-age machine provides mashed potatoes in about eight minutes. Now, these are not your traditional mashed potatoes that have been peeled and run through a ricer. They are, however, full of flavour and with the right balance of salt and butter, just as comforting.
With the darker, colder evenings upon us, give this 20-minute Baked Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes meal a try. And if there are leftovers, they’re already sandwich ready!
- 1 pound lean or extra lean ground beef
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 to 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup puréed prunes (baby food, see notes)
- 12 small nugget potatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Small handful of chives, chopped or cut with scissors (about ¼ cup)
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- ½ cup pasata (puréed tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon sugar or agave
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar, divided
- 4 cups arugula, loosley packed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 field cucumber
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta
- Garnish (optional): cracked pepper, fresh parsley, lemon wedges
- Preheat broiler and move rack to top third of oven. Place a sheet pan in the oven.
- In a medium bowl add the egg, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, prunes and ground beef. Use hands to mix until just combined. Scoop mixture onto a piece of parchment and divide in half, then half again. Flatten the mince into four rectangles, 1 inch in thickness. Carefully remove sheet pan from oven, slide parchment with the meat loaf onto the pan and place In the oven. (Don't worry if oven is not fully preheated yet.) Set timer for ten minutes.
- Potatoes: While meat is cooking, give the potatoes a quick wash, scrubbing off any small patches of dirt. Place them in a shallow, microwave safe bowl (like a small lasagna pan or glass pie plate). Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 8 minutes. When done, add butter, 2 teaspoons of salt and chives. Mash with skins and then either scoop onto board or return to oven to keep warm until serving.
- Sauce for meatloaf: whisk tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, sugar and mustard. At the ten minute mark, spoon over meat loaf and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, checking for doneness with a meat thermometer (the temperature should be 160℉).
- Salad: In a small bowl toss arugula with olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Using a mandoline, slice cucumber ¼ inch thick. Place arugula on board, top with cucumber and sprinkle with feta.
- To assemble: Plate arugula on board and top with cucumbers. Scoop mashed potatoes onto remainder of board. slide meat on top of potatoes finish with freshly cracked pepper, parsley and lemon wedges.
More 20-Minute Meal Ideas?
- General Tso’s Crispy Tofu
- Salmon Kebabs, Coconut Rice & Garlic Green Beans
- Sticky Greek Chicken & Cauliflower Couscous
- Mini Ricotta Meatballs Over Lemon Rice and Peas
- Coconut & Bean Soup with Crostini Bar
Lisa Bolton is the creator, writer and photographer behind Food Well Said, her blog about bringing thoughtfully prepared, whole food recipes. She lives in the Lower Mainland of BC and you can reach her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.