The question I get asked most often is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” I’m always taken aback by this inquiry because there is no simple answer. There is not one place, person or thing from which I draw inspiration but rather it’s a culmination of those plus experiences and the fact that my mind wanders off a lot to weird places that can only be explained by strange dreams. Inspiration doesn’t just come to me (or any person I know) out of thin air. It takes work. It’s the result of many years of active learning, trying, experimenting and even failing. In order to be inspired, it’s necessary to immerse yourself in the subject.
I have spent years trying to be a good cook. Sure, I can take a look in your kitchen pantry and fridge and whip up something delicious for you… Now. It wasn’t always that way. I’ve had many failures in the past including a serious mishap with cranberry sauce and coco powder which turned out to be one of the most horrid experiments ever. I felt like a mad scientist in an old black & white movie who created the blob about to destroy mankind.
So what do I spend my time doing to foster my inspiration? I read cookbooks and look intently at the photos and the arrangement of the food. I watch cooking shows and imagine the smell, taste and feel of the ingredients and how they complement each other in a final dish. I eat at restaurants and attempt to deconstruct each meal, picking it apart until I’ve discovered every herb, spice and technique used to create it. I talk about food. I share my thoughts on different varieties of tomatoes and the texture of eggplant with my husband, M, much to his chagrin, I’m sure! I make things – others’ recipes, simple bites, time-honored classics and my own creations. I think about food and arrange the ingredients in as many ways as possible as if I was trying to fit all the numbers perfectly in a Sudoku game. I play around at the grocery or farmers market and compare ingredients and come up with new ways of using them. I talk to the farmers about how they use their produce. I experiment and test ideas, combinations of flavors and varying textures. I could seriously go on and on but I think you get the gist. It’s not usually one thing that gives me inspiration but it’s an ongoing process of thinking, learning, experiencing and creating.
Usually, when I do draw inspiration directly from a source, it’s from something in my childhood. However, just this once, I drew inspiration from a cooking show. I was watching Giada (oh, how I love her!) on the Food Network one day and she made turkey meatloaf sandwiches. I love turkey meatloaf and had been making it for years, but this one was different. It had Romano cheese and parsley and bits of sun dried tomato and it was wrapped in pancetta! This sounded heavenly to me so I set out to make my own version of her meatloaf. It has since become a huge favorite in our house and a go-to when we have guests for dinner. You can see Giada’s original recipe HERE.
My version is made into individual meatloaves and is wrapped in prosciutto instead of pancetta. You still get the salty quality and crispy texture on the outside with much less fat. I cover it in a quick tomato sauce rather than put it in a sandwich. I like the individual loaves for portion control and kids love having their own little cupcake-shaped meatloaves on their plate. This meatloaf packs a punch of rich flavor and guests always guiltily sneak seconds when I serve it.
Prosciutto Wrapped & Stuffed Turkey Meatloaves
Servings: 8 • Size: 1 meatloaf • Weight Watcher Points+: 4
Calories: 146 • Fat: 6g • Carbs: 7g • Fiber: 1g • Protein: 14g
Sugars: 4g • Sodium: 298g • Cholesterol: 65mg
- 1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7)
- 1 ounce julienne cut sun dried tomatoes, rough chopped
- ¼ cup shaved Romano or Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 8 slices prosciutto
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian style stewed tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon chopped basil
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt, to taste*
*I don’t add salt to my tomato sauce because I feel the meatloaves are salty enough, but some may feel it’s needed.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
For the meatloaves, place all the ingredients except the prosciutto in a large bowl. Lightly mix together with hands. Be careful not to over-mix. You want the ingredients dispersed but to still have a rustic quality to it. Line 8 cups of a muffin tin with the prosciutto, using one slice per cup. You will have to tear each piece to fit it evenly into the cup. Spoon the meatloaf mixture into each prosciutto lined muffin cup. Bake 24-28 minutes or until edges are brown and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Mash together using a potato masher. Microwave on medium-high 2-3 minutes or until heated through, stirring once halfway through.
Loosen the meatloaves by running a knife along the edge. Serve upside down (with the prosciutto on top) and spoon the tomato sauce on top.