No longer just a 1950’s American housewives dish

This lamb meatloaf with tahini sauce is a lovely family-friendly recipe.

  • SERVES: 6 – 8
  • PREP TIME: 10 mins
  • COOK TIME:  60 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy

Not the sweaty Bat-out-of-hell-I’d-do-anything-for-love type of meatloaf.

No, sadly, that Meatloaf died recently at age 74.

But his songs live on still as part of my teenage soundtrack.

And the great days of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Meatloaf – the other well-known type

Today, I’m referring to meatloaf – the dish.

And if you’re not American, then you probably don’t know a lot about it.

Except for a rather dried-up, loaf of scrappy meat served up by American housewives from the ’50s & ’60s.

Or as part of an American sitcom, with the family sitting at the dining table eating meatloaf.

Well, you might be surprised to find out that ‘loaf night’ was not an  American invention.


So, it isn’t an invention of thrifty housewives.

But apparently goes as far back as medieval Europe.

In fact, they think as far back as the 5th Century as a Mediterranean dish.

Which was invented to use up meat scraps along with fruits, nuts and seasoning.

And it was from here that the meatloaf began its journey of many recipe iterations.

But still, as a dish that used leftovers or meat scraps to make a good, filling meal at an affordable price.

The American staple

However, it seems that it was America who really embraced the meatloaf.

And made it part of their food culture, alongside hotdogs and hamburgers.

Back in colonial times, German immigrants made scrapple aka pon haus (it’s Pennsylvania Dutch).

Which is traditionally made up of ground pork, pork scraps and trimmings, cornmeal and spices.

Then formed into a loaf and fried.

However, in the late 1870’s the modern American meatloaf was born.

And thanks to the industrial revolution which created industrial-scale meatpacking.

There were plenty of meat scraps around.

Which were best used chopped or ground and seasoned.

The mighty meatloaf became a staple for Americans during the Depression.

By the 1950s, with the help of Betty Crocker – a brand and fictional character used in advertising campaigns for food and recipes – the meatloaf was here to stay.

Just goes to show you, how a simple, economical way of making a meal, has had endurance over many centuries.

And many cultures.

Lamb meatloaf with tahini sauce

But there is good news.

It’s had a bit of a resurgence.

And some great chefs have put their spin on this modest, unflashy dish.

To help raise its flavour game a little.

And this is where Ottolenghi’s lamb meatloaf comes in.

Which is served with tahini sauce.

What is tahini?

It’s simply ground, toasted, sesame seeds.

Grinding them, it turns them into a thick, oily paste a bit like peanut butter.

Tahini adds a nutty flavour and creamy texture to recipes.

Tahini substitutes

You should be able to easily find it in most supermarkets.

But if you can’t then here are some great substitutes:

  • Cashew butter or almond butter. These kinds of nut butter have a similar consistency to tahini and their flavour is fairly neutral
  • Sunflower butter
  • Peanut butter – The most practical solution. However, peanut butter has a stronger flavour so don’t use as much as you would tahini. You could mix in some sesame seed oil.

What to serve with lamb meatloaf

You can serve it with pretty much anything but here are a few extra ideas:

  • Cornbread – makes you feel like you’re having an American ‘loaf night’.
  • Mashed potatoes – the creamier the better
  • Honey glazed carrots
  • Creamed spinach
  • Roast veggies
  • Salad
  • Coleslaw
  • OR, have it cold in a sandwich or warm pitta bread

Meatloaf is a great dish to serve to your family no matter what you decide to serve with it.


Lamb meatloaf with tahini sauce

Course Main Course
Keyword family meals, family recipes, lamb meatloaf, meatloaf, one pan meal
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Ottolenghi SMIPLE
Cost £


  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 tomatoes. 1 roughly chopped, 2 coarsely grated and skin discarded
  • 500 g lamb mince, not too lean
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 80 g pecorino, finely grated
  • 50 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • salt

Tahini sauce

  • 100 g tahini paste
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  • Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F and grease a 20cm x 10cm loaf tin with a little oil.
  • Into a food processor, add the courgette, onion, carrot and chopped tomato and blitz until it looks a bit like the texture of the mince.
    Next, transfer to a sieve, set over of bowl, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
    Put the vegetables into a large bowl, then add the lamb, 2 garlic cloves, the pecorino, breadcrumbs, eggs, tomato paste, spices and a tsp of salt.
    Now, using your hands, combine the mix, then transfer to a loaf ti or similar and place in a high-sided baking dish. Slowly pour boiling water into this dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the loaf tin. Bake for 1hr 10mins until golden brown.

Tahini sauce

  • In a bowl add the tahini, one garlic clove, 2 tbsps of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt and slowly whisk in 80 ml of water until it's a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Grated tomato

  • In a bowl, grate 2 tomatoes (you can add a squeeze of lemon and season if you want).


  • Once the meatloaf is cooked, lift the loaf tin out of its water bath and leave to cool for 10 mins.
    Pour off any liquid and fat in the loaf tin, then transfer the meatloaf to a platter.
    Pour the tahini sauce over the meatloaf, followed by the tomatoes.