You know how some things you never quite outgrow? Meatloaf is one of those for me. Just because a dish is comfort food doesn’t mean it can’t be–dare I say it? I’ll whisper: sexy. Seriously. If not outright sexy, it’s certainly wearing a snazzier dress to the party.

There are so many possibilities, actually, but I’ll start with this one. Are you ready for the second installment of the Sicilian pesto saga?

The basic  meatloaf recipe is a variation on the way my mom taught me when I was a kiddo. Last year, I measured so I could share. It always comes out moist and delicious.

STUFFED MEATLOAF WITH PESTO AND FRESH MOZZARELLA

1.25 pounds of meatloaf mix (ground veal/ pork/beef combo)
¼ cup water
most of an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (reserve small portion to top meatloaf)
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 tablespoon grated Pecorino Romano
Ground black pepper

For Filling
3 tablespoons Sicilian pesto (or whatever pesto you have on hand)
fresh mozzarella, sliced (locally, I Liuzzi)

Line a baking sheet (I use a pizza pan) with foil. Combine ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Use care just to combine—don’t overhandle the meat.

Split the meat mixture into two halves. Gently form the first half into a large oval and pat to flatten. Layer sliced fresh mozzarella evenly over bottom half. Top with Sicilian pesto.

Then form the remaining meatloaf mixture over the top, making sure to cover the cheese and pesto. Use remaining tomato sauce to “frost” the outer layer of the loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes.

So, is this meatloaf an offer you can’t refuse? Grab a bottle of red (skip the bottle of white) and enjoy!

Got basil?

Adding tomatoes makes this pesto different and especially summery good! Small disclaimer: this kat’s not Sicilian. But I was born and raised in Melilli’s sister city, and many of those closest to me are–at least in part–so let’s say I’m Sicilian by association, thereby qualified to share this particular recipe with you.

San Marzanos from the deck

With basil blowing up outside and too many tomatoes, this recipe perfectly combines what’s fresh and plentiful in a variation on the pesto you already know and love.

Bountiful basil: lemon, cinnamon and Genovese

SICILIAN PESTO
adapted from Cooking Light

¼ cup pine nuts
3  garlic cloves
4  cups  loosely packed basil leaves (about 2 ounces)
¼  cup  extra-virgin olive oil
½  teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼  teaspoon  crushed red pepper (I use Penzey’s Aleppo)
½  cup grated Pecorino Romano
2  cups  chopped seeded tomato (I used a combo of San Marzanos and Cherokee Purples)

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes, shaking the pan constantly.

Add nuts and garlic to food processor; process till minced.

Feline supervision is key!

Add basil, oil, salt and peppers; process until blended, scraping sides as needed. Add cheese; process until smooth. Spoon into a bowl; fold in tomato. Toss with pasta of your choice.

Dinner is served--dig in!

Makes about 2.5 cups of pesto. Be sure to save at least a few tablespoons ’cause I’ll be back with another way to use the pesto later this week. Till then, ciao for now!