No matter what the reason is for the gathering, slow-cooker mini meatloaves on crostini is the perfect meaty bite to keep the party going. Whether tailgating for the Superbowl, gathering for an Easter brunch, or just any Friday night happy hour, these little morsels are sure to satisfy AND without the guilt.
Meatballs in some sort of sauce (usually a grape and chili sauce) have always been the go-to party appetizer in many Southern kitchens. But, since they are usually made with fatty ground beef and sugary jelly, they weren’t always the healthiest fare. By switching out the fat and adding in flavor, we a have juicy, tender, and oh-so-good-for-you version here. This version has tender ground turkey and veggie meatloaves simmering in a sweet and spicy tomato sauce. I have my simple homemade version below, but any all natural marinara, arrabiata, or tomato-basil store-bought sauce will work great. Since these are being served on crostini, we are making little footballs instead of round meatballs….so they don’t roll away on you!
Since these are so juicy, they need a little crunch to support them. That’s where the cheesy crostini comes into play. Simply bake off slices of baguette with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese and Voila! Your appetizer is ready. Serve extra baguette slices on the side to sop up the leftover sauce too! Set up a self-serve station with all of the fixings and let your guests build their own. These are simple, hearty, and ready to soak up the libations at your next gathering! Enjoy!
Ingredients for Mini Meatloaves
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced Tuscan or purple kale (the flat leaf kind)
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoon Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for browning
- In a medium bowl, add the onion, garlic, kale, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the egg and stir again. Note: Mixing the veggies and spices together before adding the turkey helps to prevent over-mixing.
- Add in the ground turkey and gently work everything through with your hands. Do not over mix! Over mixing will result in dense meatloaves. Add in the breadcrumbs and mix to incorporate.
- Using your hands grab about a small palmful (about 2 tbls.) of meat mixture and roll into a ball. Once it’s a meatball, squish it down into a even oval shaped with a flat side. Note: the goal is to have the mini-meatloaf be the size of the crostini and flat enough so that it won’t roll off the toast.
- At this point you can cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them. They can be made the day before the party.
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, begin browning your meatloaves in small batches. Note: Once in the pan, do NOT touch the meatloaves. Just leave them for a few minutes and then flip them over. Moving the loaves too much will result in them possibly breaking apart.
- Remove from the pan and add the meatloaves and the juices to the slow-cooker with the tomato sauce. Set the slow-cooker on High for 4 hours or Low up to 8 hours. The slow-cooker will keep the meatloaves warm throughout the party.
- Serve on the cheesy crostini with sliced mozzarella cheese, or simply leave some toothpicks out to eat right out of the pot.
Ingredients for Cheesy Crostini
1 french baguette
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
grated parmesan cheese
sliced mozzarella cheese (tip: place the cheese in the freezer for a few minutes to make it easier to slice)
- Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the baguette at an angle into 1/4 inch slices.
- Drizzle both sides of the slices with the olive oil and place onto a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the top side with salt, parmesan cheese, and thyme.
- Place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Watch them carefully! The goal is for them to be brown and crisp, yet still have a tender middle. We don’t want little bricks here.
- To serve, place a slice of mozzarella on top of the crostini, top with a mini-meatloaf, and, of course, another sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Ingredients for Slow-cooker Tomato Sauce
1 can (1 lb.) San Marzano tomatoes with basil
1 can (1 lb.) diced tomatoes, no salt added if possible
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
several sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
several sprigs fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
sea salt and ground pepper to taste
dash red pepper flakes (optional)
handful of chopped Italian parsley
- In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add a little salt and pepper to draw out the moisture of the onions.
- Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add wine and cook until it is reduced, about five minutes.
- Add the herbs, salt, and pepper and place into the slow-cooker.
- Add the canned tomatoes and simmer on High for 4 hours, or Low for 8 hours. Using the spoon, break down the tomatoes into smaller chunks.
- After about an hour, you can add the meatloaves to finish in the sauce for the remainder of the time.
- About 30 minutes before serving, stir in the Italian parsley. Serve on the side with the crostini and mini-meatloaves, or simply toss with your favorite pasta.