October – Turkey Meatloaf

California is in the midst of a historic drought. Along with taking short showers, letting our lawns die, and passing on tap water at restaurants, our family is considering the water that is needed to produce the food we eat every day. Global agricultural production accounts for 92% of the water footprint, and in the U.S. meat alone is 30%. Doesn’t it make sense to take these facts into consideration when doing meal planning?

Beef requires 1,847 gallons of water to produce 1 pound, shocking isn’t it? Lamb needs 1,248 gal./lb., pork is lower at 718 gal./lb. Most efficient is chicken at 518 gal./lb. Eggs are a winner at 395 gal./lb. Because of these environmental facts, we are limiting the amount of beef and lamb we eat on a regular basis.

I was fine with those environmental limits until I saw a post by the blog The Frugal Housfrau for Steakhouse Meatloaf. I haven’t made a meatloaf in years and suddenly I had to have one! Just looking at her pictures made my mouth water. But, we are limiting beef consumption, remember? Could I adapt her recipe to use something less water hungry like turkey? Yes! My family judged it a success and it made wonderful leftover sandwiches. Turkey can be dry so I made some alterations to her original recipe. The Frugal Housfrau came to the rescue again, she had added ricotta to her chicken/turkey meatballs to keep them moist, and I had borrowed the same idea for my lamb burgers last March. Both of those recipes turned out very well, why not meatloaf which is really a big meatball or burger, right? And for an extra burst of nutrition, flavor, and moistness, I added a grated zucchini to the mix. After all, isn’t zucchini bread a vegetable?

Here goes.

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, diced
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup, divided
  • 1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 ounces of Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, whipped with a fork to mix
  • 2 pounds of ground turkey, dark meat preferred but either is fine


  • 1 cup of marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon of hot chili sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, add the chopped bacon. Saute until the bacon is beginning to brown. Remove it to a large bowl.
  3. Add the second tablespoon of oil the the skillet, then add the onions and shallots. Saute in medium until softened, translucent, and just starting to brown and the edges. This will take about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic to the skillet and continue to cook another minute. Add the contents of the skillet to the same bowl and let the contents cool.
  5. Add ketchup, grated zucchini, oregano, mustard, Parmesan cheese, ricotta, beaten eggs, salt and pepper to the bowl. Mix to combine.
  6. Add the ground turkey to the bowl. Mix gently to distribute the ingredients. I find this easier to do with well washed hands.
  7. On a foil lined baking sheet form the meat into a free form loaf.IMG_3637
  8. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes to an hour.
  9. Meanwhile mix the topping ingredients together. I was serving pasta with the loaf so used the same marinara I intended to use with my penne.
  10. Pour the topping over the loaf to cover the top. Continue to cook until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. This took another 15 minutes.
  11. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting into slices to serve.
Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

It was delicious, moist and flavorful. My men folk made grilled cheese and meatloaf panini the following day, I’m sorry I didn’t get any pictures as I was out with some girlfriends.

This recipe is gluten free if you are watching that in you diet, also low carb if you don’t serve it with the pasta. Or use some spiralized zucchini instead of the pasta.

Sprialized zucchini

Sprialized zucchini

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday, I’m a day late but there will be leftovers and the party is still “a happening”, co hosting this week are Kaila and Mila.

Note 10/29/2015: ok everyone, where’s the meat? I forgot the turkey! I apologize if anyone tried to make this recipe. Use 2 pounds of ground turkey, I prefer the dark meat because I think it has more flavor. But, both will be fine. The recipe has been edited.

18 thoughts on “October – Turkey Meatloaf

  1. Wonderful post Liz. I used to make turkey meatloaf often and haven’t make it for quite some time. Now I feel a craving coming on. Looks like I’ll be adding ground turkey to the list for this week. Really looking forward to adding ricotta, which I’ve never done before. 😉

  2. Hi Liz, I had forgotten about your lamb burgers! After you posted this I remembered the exchange – I’m so glad this turned out so well – and the next time I do a loaf, you can bet it will be this recipe! I love that you snuck the zucchini in there, too. “Stealth veggies”

  3. I took a course through the University of Minnesota last year on Global Food Trends and one of the things we had to do was determine which type of “meat” would have the least environmental foot prints – poultry is very good, but when I examined all the data and crunched up all the numbers, I wrote my paper on “Can Thumper Save the World?” The rabbit is one of the most environmental friendly critters there is…

  4. We’re so glad to have you at the party! There’s still plenty of food, music, and stories to go around!! Your dish looks absolutely delicious, and will be a hit at the party. I have celiac disease, so I would serve this with zoodles. One of my favorite quick meals.

    I actually visited California back in April when your drought was beginning to hit the news stations. A few of the coffee shops that I visited had swapped out almond milk for hemp milk because apparently it takes a lot less water to produce hemp than almonds. I thought it was interesting to say the least.

    Thanks for coming to the fiesta, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend! 😀

    • Hello Kaila, thanks for visiting. It is getting pretty grim here. Up on the coast in Fort Bragg the restaurants are serving food on paper plates (and wine in plastic glasses) to avoid using their dishwashers. The ocean is backing up into the river, which provides their drinking water. We need to make some major alterations to water and building policies. I’ve been reading a lot about the creative ways Australia manages their water, we have a lot of work to do here is California.

      • I’m far away from California now, but I hope that hopefully the US as a whole learns more about these alterations, so that maybe we can conserve water across the whole country as well. Australia sounds like an interesting case to follow. I may look into that a bit in my free time as well. Thanks for sharing your experiences with me!

  5. Pingback: October – Simple Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper | spades, spatulas & spoons

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