Easy Zucchini & Ground Beef Dinner

Easy Zucchini and Ground Beef Dinner -- Six basic ingredients form the foundation of this adaptable one-skillet meal, which comes together quickly for a family-friendly dinner on even the busiest of weeknights.

Six basic ingredients form the foundation of this one-skillet meal, which comes together quickly for a family-friendly dinner on even the busiest of weeknights.  Follow the basic recipe or customize Easy Zucchini & Ground Beef Dinner to taste—and hope for leftovers because they improve with age!

 

When my husband and I planned a quick family trip to Washington, D.C. in February of 2017, I envisioned being bundled up in hats and scarves as we hurriedly walked from one destination to the next.  Instead, we were peeling off layers and considering the need for sunscreen as the mercury hit 70 degrees.

When we returned home after a few days away, our daffodils were in full bloom and our rhubarb plants were shooting skyward.

To say that this year was different is likely stating the obvious.  The first signs of those rhubarb plants arrived in April, just weeks before I’m typically cutting full-grown stalks for use in cobblers and other treats.

Mother Nature’s chilly spring no doubt put the local farmers behind as well, but farm stands and backyard gardens are nevertheless rewarding us with fresh produce once again.  Of course, a delay tends to heighten anticipation and ultimately makes those first few bites taste a little better, too.

Because there never seems to be enough good ways to enjoy summer’s bounty of zucchini, welcoming the growing season with an easy meal that uses a full pound of it seemed fitting.

Easy Zucchini and Ground Beef Dinner -- Six basic ingredients form the foundation of this adaptable one-skillet meal, which comes together quickly for a family-friendly dinner on even the busiest of weeknights.

Six basic ingredients form the foundation of this versatile dish, and additional components can be incorporated as desired.  Jarred salsa and a few spice cabinet staples infuse exceptional flavorwith incredible ease.

Optional toppings can be sprinkled upon serving, or a bevy of options can be passed at the table.  For those who prefer, ground turkey could be used in place of the ground beef, and corn could be added along with the other veggies. We enjoy this with a scoop of rice, but you could also use quinoa or pasta—or even serve as a taco, burrito, or lettuce wrap.

Easy Zucchini and Ground Beef Dinner -- Six basic ingredients form the foundation of this adaptable one-skillet meal, which comes together quickly for a family-friendly dinner on even the busiest of weeknights.

Easy Zucchini & Ground Beef Dinner
Yield: 4 servings
Six basic ingredients form the foundation of this one-skillet meal, which comes together quickly for a family-friendly dinner on even the busiest of weeknights. Corn offers a complementary addition, so feel free to stir in some frozen or canned corn with the salsa or give fresh kernels a quick sear earlier in the process.
Ingredients
  • Olive oil for pan
  • 1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), diced into 1/4-inch pieces*
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 a large or one small bell pepper (color of choice), seeded and diced, optional
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup jarred salsa (mild, medium, or hot according to preference)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Optional toppings: 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese; chopped avocado; chopped fresh cilantro; crumbled tortilla chips; sour cream; hot sauce; additional salsa or chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Optional for serving: cooked rice or grain of choice; tortillas or lettuce to make wraps
Instructions

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high in a large saucepan or lidded skillet.  Add the diced zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes or until golden brown in spots and just tender.  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper as the zucchini cooks.  Remove to a plate.

Add another teaspoon or two of oil to the pan, as needed, and then reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and optional bell pepper.  Sauté until softened, 2-3 minutes, and then add the beef.  Brown the beef, crumbling as you go.  When the beef is nearly browned, add salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and several more turns of the pepper mill at this point) along with the cumin and garlic powder.

When the beef is cooked, stir in the salsa, cover the pan, and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. (I stir once midway through and adjust the heat to low if the mixture seems nicely thickened.)

Add the zucchini back to the pan and cook, covered, to heat throughout, for another 2 minutes or so.

Sprinkle with cheese, if using, and serve with additional toppings as desired.

Notes

*Though it takes an extra minute or two to uniformly dice the zucchini into small pieces instead of roughly chopping it, I find that the smaller pieces better integrate into the dish—and picky eaters are less likely to object to them!

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

For more delicious zucchini recipes like Zucchini Pizza Casserole and Beef & Rice Stuffed Zucchini, simply search “zucchini” on this site or click here.

A few more favorites…

Roasted Zucchini and Mushrooms with Feta

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Noodles in Rustic Tomato Sauce

 

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Comments

  1. Sheree Post author

    Made this for dinner tonight and it’s a keeper. Love adding zucchini in this dish. Very good!

    Reply
  2. Joyce Post author

    Hi Ann, thank you for sharing this great recipe. Made it for dinner and served with flour tortillas . Also, made fresh corn and tomatoes and avocado.

    Reply
  3. Gail Post author

    I needed to share with you that my son cooked your meat and zucchini dish after seeing it in the newspaper and used vegetable meat so my vegetarian daughter could eat it too. He added fresh mangos to it and it was spectacular. The three of us ate every last bite of it!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Gail, I love that he made it vegetarian so it worked for your family and bet the mango added something special. Thanks so much for letting me know!

      Reply