Giada’s Vegetable “Meatloaf” with Checca sauce

Loaf uncovered

Hello everybody,

So, how’s 2014 treating you so far?

I don’t know if its because I am in my mid 30’s now but this holiday season really affected my weight and I know that I didn’t eat more than in previous years.  I have surpassed my acceptable weight limit, broke the unbreakable barrier.  If my scale could talk it would say, ‘WTF happened!?’ or ‘Put down the bowling ball’ in flashing, scrolling text.

So I am now part of the throng that start a diet as of January 6th.  I have also started the P90X exercise program again, which is brutal! Its torture! I am so out of shape right now that my muscles are screaming! I am having difficulty walking DOWN the stairs. Shouldn’t it be worse going up the stairs??

Anyway, I bought a new cookbook to commemorate this moment in my life. It is ‘Giada’s Feel Good Food’ by Giada De Laurentiis. Its not about dieting in the sense that its not a fad thing. You are not eliminating any food groups; just eating the right carbs, the right proteins and so on. Its about healthy eating and looking great. She also provides a few easy beauty tips. For example, she makes a homemade olive oil mixture to exfoliate her skin and uses olive oil once and a while on her scalp and hair as a treatment to keep her locks shiny.

Giada book  coverGiada loaf

Giada De Laurentiis was the reason I started to like cooking which deepened my appreciation of food. The first cookbook I ever bought was her ‘Everyday Italian’. That was when I first experienced someone telling me, “Wow, this is really good” and it was! After that I suppose I got the cooking bug. Then I bought her ‘Family Dinners’ book (which is still my favorite – her best)  Her recipes are always delicious, easy and accurate. Accuracy in cookbooks is not a given by the way. I have tons of cookbooks where I have had to add special notes for adjustments and so on. It can be frustrating. Its almost like some recipe books are thrown together without proper testing just to make a quick buck. Some great chefs are having cookbooks pumped out at an alarming rate. 30 minute meals, 10 minute meals, cheap meals in America , Save money with so-and-so,  lol

but I digress…

This loaf may not be the most gorgeous thing to post or photograph but it is so delicious, comforting, hearty and satisfying. My husband really liked it too.

Bonus: It is also gluten free and vegetarian friendly. If you cut a piece an inch thick, it is approximately 388 calories, not much for supper vs. some healthy chicken recipes that can be around 500 calories.(which is still quite low for supper)


The Checca sauce, which is a raw tomato sauce, tastes so fresh and delicious, I can see it applied to so many other recipes, like with salmon or filet of sole as a topping , to name a few.

Note: I used medium-grain brown rice, which I found at Provigo (Kirkland).  Short-grain and medium grain rice are similar to risotto or sushi rice and have a nice, spongy and more adhesive texture that melds well when mixed with other ingredients; perfect for a loaf.

Rice close upRice 2

Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice or quick-cooking rice but don’t be tempted to take that shortcut; you will not get the same amount of nutrition out of it. You can make the brown rice ahead, whenever you have time. It takes about 30 to 35 minutes.

Method:  1 cup of short-grain brown rice + 1.5 cups of water + salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and don’t touch for at least 30 min. (adjust to your method or liking)

Serves 6



1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Lentil Loaf

Vegetable oil cooking spray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small white onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, shredded

1 celery stalk, thinly sliced

10 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 4 cups)

1 (15-ounce) can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained

2 cups cooked brown rice (see note above)

1 cup shredded low-fat (part-skim) mozzarella cheese

½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (I omitted the corn)

⅓ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg white, lightly beaten

2 medium tomatoes, cut into sturdy slices (not too thin)



Combine the cherry tomatoes, scallions, garlic, basil, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse the tomatoes until they are coarsely chopped, being careful not to puree them. (like chunky salsa) Transfer the sauce to a bowl.

Lentil Loaf

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the carrot, onion, and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly. Reserve the skillet.

In the same large skillet, cook the spinach over medium heat until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Squeeze any excess liquid from the spinach. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Add to the onion mixture.

Add the lentils, cooked brown rice, ¾ cup of the mozzarella, the corn, basil, beaten eggs, salt, pepper, and 3/4 cup of the sauce to the cooled onion mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in 2 rows over the lentil mixture, covering the top completely. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Tomato, loafloaf cheese

Bake until the loaf is heated through and the topping is melted and starting to brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slice the loaf (still in the pan) into 1-inch slices, arrange on plates, and serve with the remaining sauce.

I really hope you enjoy this!

Have a great week!

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