Mini Meatloaf Pepper Rings with Blistered Tomatoes are the perfect hybrid of stuffed peppers, meatloaf, and burger patties. Made with lean ground beef, packed with veggies, and topped with juicy pomodoro tomatoes, they’re so cute, so delicious, and so healthy.
I’ve made meatloaf more times than I can recall – whenever I don’t know what to make with a fresh pack of ground turkey or beef, I ponder for a few seconds and then: tag, you’re it! But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t really love meatloaf. I’m not sure what it is exactly — the thick, chunky texture, the classic ketchup glaze (shudder) — but it’s never been my go-to.
Go figure, because I really enjoy burgers and stuffed peppers which, when it comes down to it, are a somewhat similar concept, just shaped and seasoned a bit differently. So while browsing the grocery store of all grocery stores the other day (ahem, Trader Joe’s for those who aren’t immediately familiar) I eyed a pack of lean ground beef because I wanted a break from my usual chicken and turkey.
I thought about stuffed peppers, which are great except I am (trying) to cut down on grains lately (not that there’s anything wrong with them, but I’m heading on a beach getaway next month *cue bathing suit—enough said*). Stuffed peppers usually need a little something besides meat to fill them out (aka rice). Then I thought of burgers, but burgers are not really burgers unless you eat them with a bun (aka bread). And that is the story of how these adorable mini pepper ring meatloaves were born, a lovely hybrid of both.
Seasoned lean ground beef is stuffed into pepper rings, browned to perfection in the skillet, then topped with sauce and a sprinkle of cheese in the oven. The best part is you can eat a couple of these babies alone or serve alongside some rice (and maybe some avocado slices to add some healthy fat) to make a complete meal — just as delicious either way, and decidedly not meatloaf.
Mini Meatloaf Pepper Rings with Blistered Tomatoes
2 lb lean ground beef
6 assorted red and green bell peppers
3 cloves garlic
1 T paprika
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
Salt + pepper, to taste
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 15-oz can pomodoro tomatoes (can substitute 15-oz tomato sauce + cherry tomatoes)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar (I used sharp cheddar)
After rinsing the peppers, carefully slice off the very top and very bottom of each one. Reserve to the side. Slice each bell pepper into 3 rings. Take the reserved pepper lids/bottoms and dice any remaining pepper into small squares.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, garlic, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, parsley, and egg. Combine with your hands but be sure not to overmix.
Next, stuff a handful of the meat mixture into the pepper until each pepper ring is filled.
Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add each meat-filled pepper ring to the skillet and brown on one side for 2 minutes or until browned, then flip and brown on the opposite side for 2 minutes or until browned. You may need to do this in 2 batches. Repeat until all pepper rings are browned.
Transfer pepper ring meatloaves to a baking sheet lined with foil or a silicone baking mat (I used the latter and swear by them!). Spoon sauce and pomodoro tomatoes over the top of each one (about 1-2 tablespoons per pepper ring).
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. At 35 minutes, sprinkle the top of each meatloaf with shredded cheddar. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Devour.
+ I used a 15-oz can of Afeltra brand Pomodorini Cherry Tomatoes, which turned out to be a mix of tomato sauce with whole cherry tomatoes. Mine were given to me as a gift from Eataly in New York City. If you can’t find these or something similar, you can simply spoon regular canned tomato sauce on top of each meatloaf. If you don’t want to miss out on the cherry tomatoes, you can add those whole on top of the tomato sauce and they should roast/blister in the oven.
+ The cheese is optional but highly recommended!
+ The meat will shrink a little in the oven, so to prevent a gap between the pepper ring and the meat, be sure to pack the meat in tightly (and to use enough) before you bake.