Jewish flavors enhance an American favorite: the beloved meat loaf

Meat loaf. Do those words conjure up any fond memories of a well-loved recipe?

For many folks, meat loaf is family food, and not something special for company or a Shabbat dinner. But meat loaf is so good that it deserves a chance to shine. Here are two untraditional meat loaf recipes based on some traditional Jewish flavors.

The Stuffed Cabbage Meat Loaf started with memories of my Ashkenazi grandmother’s meat loaf and her stuffed cabbage. In her honor, the meat loaf has a hard-boiled egg core, a cabbage wrapping, and a sweet and sour tomato sauce to top it off. This is a good recipe to include low-fat ground beef, since the cabbage keeps the meat loaf moist.

The Spanish Olive Meat Loaf features Sephardic seasonings and pimento-stuffed olives.


Stuffed Cabbage Meat Loaf

Serves 6-8

6 large, green cabbage leaves

oil spray

11⁄4 lbs. ground beef

1 cup matzah meal

1 egg, beaten

14 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid

1⁄2 cup finely chopped onions

2 tsp. minced garlic

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄8 tsp. ground dried oregano

1⁄8 tsp. paprika

2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Immerse leaves in pot of boiling water, cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 4-5 minutes until the leaves are pliable. Drain. Spray large baking dish with the oil spray. Place 2 largest cabbage leaves stem end to stem end in the center of the baking dish. Set aside.

Combine meat, matzah meal, beaten egg, tomatoes with liquid, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and paprika. Mound half into an 8×4-inch loaf shape in the middle of the 2 cabbage leaves. Press hard-boiled eggs into loaf end to end. Mound remaining meat on top. Drape 2-3 cabbage leaves over top of meat loaf, filling in gaps with remaining leaves. Fold up cabbage leaves from underneath to enclose. Spray top with oil spray.

Bake, spraying cabbage with oil if it begins to dry out or get too brown, for 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 hours, until firm to the touch and cooked through. Let sit 20 minutes before serving. Serve with sauce (below).

Sweet and Sour Sauce: Plump 1⁄2 cup raisins in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain. In a small pan, combine raisins with 15 oz. can tomato sauce, 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 1⁄4 tsp. dried ground ginger, 1⁄8 tsp. salt, 1⁄8 tsp. ground black pepper and 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Taste, adding sugar or vinegar as needed.


Spanish Olive Meat Loaf

Serves 6

2 Tbs. oil plus additional for greasing pan

1⁄2 cup chopped red onion

4 tsp. minced garlic

2 cups chopped kale or chard

1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1 lb. ground beef

2 Tbs. tomato paste

2 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 cup bread crumbs

10 queen-size, pimento-stuffed green olives, cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in pan. Sauté onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add kale, red pepper, paprika, cumin, salt and black pepper. Sauté until cooked.

Oil an 81⁄2×41⁄2-inch loaf pan. Combine kale mixture with beef, tomato paste, eggs, bread crumbs and olives. Put into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until firm to the touch and cooked through. Let sit 20 minutes before serving.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].