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Mendo Lake Family Life

Make a Kid-Friendly Turkey Meatloaf

By Verveine and Ken Oringer 

The special thing about meatloaf is that you can eat it any way you want—hot, cold, or even in a sandwich! In our family, I (Verveine) like it hot and my brother Luca likes it cold. Meatlof is like the American version of French pâté, and it’s also kind of like making a burger but you can pack more flavors into it. This was one of the first recipes my dad ever made for us kids—he made it for our toddler group and taught the other parents how to make it too. I like to think it was a good start to my cooking career. Be sure to use ground turkey, not ground turkey breast (which may be labeled 99 percent fat-free) in this recipe.

Turkey Meatloaf

Prepare Ingredients:

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick

3 ounces frozen spinach

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 pounds ground turkey

¾ cup gluten-free bread crumbs

½ cup ketchup

1 large egg

2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

Start Cooking!

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Add onion, carrots, spinach, and garlic to food processor. Lock lid into place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until vegetables are finely chopped, about ten 1-second pulses. Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help).

3. In 12-inch skillet, combine vegetable mixture, oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Use wooden spoon to stir until well combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and just beginning to brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Turn off heat.

4. Transfer vegetable mixture to large plate (ask an adult for help). Let cool completely, about 15 minutes.

5. In large bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, ketchup, egg, tamari, mustard, and cooled vegetable mixture. Use your hands to mix until well combined.

6. Transfer turkey mixture to center of parchment-lined baking sheet. Form into loaf about 9 inches long and 5 inches wide. Wash your hands.

7. Place baking sheet in oven. Bake until meatloaf is well browned and center of loaf registers 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 hour.

8. Use oven mitts to remove baking sheet from oven and place on cooling rack (ask an adult for help). Let cool for 15 minutes. Cut loaf into 1-inch-thick slices and serve. (Meatloaf can also be chilled in refrigerator and served cold.)

Reprinted, with permission, from Cooking with My Dad, the Chef (America’s Test Kitchen, 2023),

In Cooking with My Dad, the Chef, Verveine Oringer and her dad, James Beard Award–winning chef and restaurateur Ken Oringer, share more than 70 kid-tested and kid-approved recipes that also happen to be gluten-free.