Meatloaf, both a traditional and favourite comfort food traces its origins through many European cultures and is a close relation to Italian meatballs. There is no definitive recipe though it is usually a combination of minced (ground) meat and vegetables bound together with egg a cereal based filler.

A versatile dish which may be made simply, bulked out by vegetables for an economical midweek meal or rather more grandly, as demonstrated by Mark Hix who put it on his menu at La Caprice.

This version tucks snugly into a 1 pound (500g) loaf tin, nicely dividing into 6 slices which serves 3 and uses low (5%) fat minced beef, but do experiment with combinations of pork, turkey or chicken.

  • 1 carrot, peeled and chunked
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 350g lean minced beef
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • 4tbs good quality dried breadcrumbs
  • 2tbs tomato ketchup
  • 1 egg
  • sea salt and black pepper

To finish:

  • about 2tbs tomato ketchup
  • 1 tomato, halved and finely sliced

Line a 1 pound (500g) loaf tin with kitchen parchment: 1 strip across the wide section and a narrow strip lengthways. Preheat the oven to 180c.

1. Place the carrot, onion and garlic into a high sided jug and grind with a hand blender or alternatively wiz in a liquidizer until quite smooth.

2. In a mixing bowl add the ground vegetables to the minced beef along with the parsley, breadcrumbs, tomato ketchup, egg and seasoning. Mix well using a fork, though I find it easier to roll up the sleeves and squish with hands.

3. Pack into the lined loaf tin, evenly covering with the additional tomato ketchup and arranging the sliced tomato to cover.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the preheated oven after which time the juices will run clear. Serve warm or cold. I particularly enjoy this as part of a cold lunch, served with salad and a good dollop of mayonnaise.