This is a rather Italian take on meatloaf, but I swear I channeled Julia Child when I sliced into this, revealing the spinach and mozzarella deliciousness in its depths. “Quelle surprise!” I shouted joyously from the kitchen, startling the man, boy, and two rather ornery cats. Now we just needed to impress the judges.
My husband, who is leery of anything served sans potatoes, sniffed at it, smiled, and dived in (I served this over mashed cauliflower to fool the husband - I'm sneaky that way). Then the boy toddled over to his plate with plastic blocks in both hands. He gazed longingly at the slice of meatloaf, presumably contemplating whether to drop his toys and use his hands or utilize his patented “face to plate” approach. The latter won out in this mental dilemma and he happily buried his face in his plate. The only time I saw him happier that evening was when he discovered pulling on the mozzarella filling created strings of gooey cheese he could drag all over the house.
Mozzarella and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Meatloaf
Courtesy of Bakin’ and Eggs
Serves 6 to 8
1 pound ground chicken (We tested this with ground beef and it was delicious. Try it with classic meatloaf mix, turkey, chicken etc.)
1 cup marinara sauce, divided
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, diced
½ large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze all the water out)
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350˚. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with foil, shiny side down.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, ¼ cup marinara sauce, bread crumbs, herbs, fennel, garlic, onion, eggs and parmesan cheese and mix well.
Press half of chicken mixture into loaf pan, creating a one-inch indentation down the center. Leave one-inch thickness on all sides. Mix together spinach and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and spoon into the indentation. Cover with remaining chicken mixture and seal edges.
Top with remaining ¾ cup marinara sauce and ¾ cup cheese and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160˚. Let stand for 10 minutes and then lift out of loaf pan using foil edges. Slice and serve with additional marinara sauce, if desired.
For a printable version of this recipe, please click here.