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.


  • 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


  1. 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.


*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!

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