I first found this Itailan mini-meatloaf recipe in a Rachael Ray magazine and I tweaked it a little bit to suit me.
1 1/3 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup grated parmesan or italian cheese blend
2/3 cup “italian-seasoned” breadcrumbs (or season them yourself, see below)
1 large egg, beaten
5 cloves of garlic, squished through a press or chopped fine
3 tbsp tomato paste, plus 1 tbsp set aside
2 tbsp olive oil
To make the normal breadcrumbs into “italian” breadcrumbs, mix in 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, and a bit of black pepper.
Mix everything but the olive oil and 1tbsp of tomato paste in a big bowl. Use your hands and get real squishy in there, kneading until the breadcrumbs are well incorporated into the meat, and the diced vegetables are mixed in evenly. Take out small portions of the mixture and make little football shaped lumps out of them with your hands, and put them onto a baking sheet. You don’t need to grease the sheet because the fat from the meat will come out as it cooks. For that reason, and for your health, I recommend getting the leanest meat possible! I also strongly suggest you use a rimmed baking sheet for this or you’ll be cleaning your oven forever. I usually get 5 “footballs” out of the recipe.
Whisk together the reserved tomato paste and olive oil, and brush it over the tops of the meatloaves. Bake them at 400F for about 20 minutes. Cooking time will depend on how fat you make the loaves. Use a meat thermometer to make sure they’re done (160F is recommended), because the tomato paste makes them stay pinkish and you can’t trust color as a sign of doneness.
I forgot the olive oil step, so mine got much crispier than usual and didn’t have a nice sweet tomatoey coating. Still tasty, but if you’re trying these, definitely don’t skip the oil and tomato paste step!