One quick tip: Cut and chop all the vegetables and herbs for the sauce before you even begin so you can add everything quickly.
Coat a skillet with a 2-count of oil and place over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, and bay leaves for a few minutes to create a base flavor. Throw in the red peppers and cook them for a couple of minutes to soften. Now, add the tomatoes; adding them at this point lets them hold their shape and prevents them from disintegrating. Stir in the parsley, ketchup, and Worcestershire; season with salt and pepper. Simmer the relish for 5 minutes to pull all the flavors together. Remove it from the heat; you should have about 4 cups of relish.
Preheat the oven to 350F. This is where you get your hands dirty! In a large mixing bowl, with your hands, loosely combine the ground beef with 1 1/2 cups of the tomato relish, the eggs, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. tender meatloaf (and meatballs, but that's another recipe). You want all the ingredients mixed well but use a gentle hand. That is one secret to Add the bread crumbs in stages, starting with 3/4 cup; you may not need all of them. I just keep adding until the mixture is still pretty moist. Most times I only the 3/4 cup of bread crumbs.
Turn out your meat mixture onto a baking sheet or roasting pan. Mold loosely into a loaf shape. Cover with another 1/2 cup of the tomato relish. Lay the bacon across the top lengthwise.
Bake the meatloaf for approximately 45-50 minutes. If you're using the baking sheet method, you don't need to cook longer than this. Don't overcook your meatloaf so it doesn't dry out. (If cooking in a loaf pan, you will need to cook for 55 to 60 minutes.)
During the last 5 minutes of cooking, I usually turn the oven onto low-broil and watch carefully just to crisp the bacon a bit more. Remove meatloaf from the oven and let it rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the remaining tomato relish on the side. This is unbelievably moist.
Cook's Note: Turkey may be substituted in place of the ground beef, just lessen cooking time to around 40 minutes and only add about 1/2 cup bread crumbs.