Italian Zucchini Pepper Casserole with Ground Beef is a casserole dish of goodness. You’ve got lean ground beef (or ground turkey), fresh zucchini, mozzarella cheese, peppers, parmesan cheese, tomato sauce and spices. It’s super simple and super satisfying. The recipe is pretty low carb as is, but you could replace the rice with cauliflower rice or just use more meat and veggies! It’s super versatile and the perfect way
Italian Zucchini Pepper Casserole with Ground Beef Tips
This easy casserole comes together in such little time. It will quickly become a go-to for your dinner table. My first tip here is on the rice. You can use a white rice or basmati rice for this dish, but for an extra hit of whole grains, I like to use parboiled brown rice. Parboiled is the one that takes 20 minutes. I usually buy Uncle Ben’s brand.
Just know that the rice should take 20 minutes which is how long parboiled brown or white rice takes. If you are in a pinch, you could use frozen brown rice or the one that comes in those shelf table packages.
You’ll just want to stir it into the ground beef mixture at the end of the prep portion on the stove top to warm it through. You won’t have to let it simmer like you do the regular rice. You’ll risk it becoming mushy.
I give you instructions for the Instant Pot or the stove top to oven. I personally like to make this in a large skillet and transfer it to the oven. Cast iron is my favorite to use, but you can use anything that will transfer to the oven! Also note, this is a great recipe for meal prep!
Substitutes for this Recipe
I use zucchini and any kind of pepper. Green pepper or any kind of bell peppers will work. If you can’t find zucchini then use yellow squash or a combo.
If you are going super low carb, you can use lots of zucchini and peppers or replace the rice with cauliflower rice. However, if you do this, note that you will not need the 3/4 cup water called for in the recipe. I like using brown rice for the extra fiber and it lowers the net carbs when you add fiber so win-win!
If you are omitting dairy, the cheese is not required. If you don’t have mozzarella or parmesan, then sub in sharp cheddar cheese. Any cheese that you enjoy with ground beef will be fine. Pepper jack cheese would give a nice kick!
If you don’t have rice, but want a carb, then orzo pasta is a great choice! For seasonings, I use dried oregano and dried basil. Any dried Italian seasonings will do.
Ground beef is my favorite here, but ground pork, ground turkey and even adding in Italian sausage could be delicious. If you don’t have fresh garlic, feel free to sub in garlic powder.
Diced onions are in the background for flavor, but if you do not like onions, you don’t have to add them. They are definitely not the main event.
Affiliate Links- Things I Recommend for This Recipe
Large Cast Iron Skillet– My favorite way to serve this meaty zucchini casserole is from a hot skillet. Those crispy edges are to die for.
Instant Pot– If you want to make it in the instant pot, then here is the model I use and love!
Thank you for using these links to purchase. I’m part of the Amazon affiliate advertising program. When you purchase using these links, you support the blog and get the same great price. I just make a tiny commission.
Leave a Comment and Star Rating
This recipe is a great way to get the entire family to eat their vegetables. I think you’ll find it goes into the regular rotation. Weeknight dinners can be challenging, but this delicious dish will have everyone coming to the table and you’ll be left with minimal dishes.
Please leave a comment and star rating below if you make this recipe. Your comments help other readers and I’d love to know if you made any changes that worked particularly well!
Please note depending on what changes you make the nutrition facts could change and are only estimated based on what I used to make this. Thanks for stopping by:)
If you love zucchini based recipes, check out these others!
If you make this tag me on Instagram @freshfitkitchen. I love to see what you’re making! PIN IT FOR LATER!
Italian Zucchini Pepper Casserole
- 1/2 lb. Lean Ground Beef recommended 93/7 ground turkey or beef
- 1 cup Marinara Sauce
- 15 ounces Petite Diced Tomatoes with Basil and Oregano
- 2 tsp. garlic minced
- 1 tsp. Dried Oregano
- 1 tsp. Dried Basil
- 1 large Bell Pepper recommend yellow or orange for a milder flavor.
- 1/2 large onion chopped
- 1 small Zucchini chopped
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 cup Quick Cook Brown Rice SEE NOTE. Look for Parboiled. Uncle Ben's Brand is recommended.
- 1/2 cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
Instant Pot/Electric Pressure Cooker Instructions:
- Turn the Instant Pot to the saute function. Drizzle in a little avocado or olive oil.
- Cook the beef (or turkey) with the zucchini, peppers, onion and garlic. Add salt , pepper, oregano and basil.
- When the beef is no longer pink, pour in the marinara, tomatoes, water and rice.
- Shut the lid and turn the vent to sealing. Cook on high pressure (or Manual depending on your model) for 15 minutes. Allow the steam to release naturally for 5 minutes.
- You can serve it now with a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese OR- Pour it into a 12 inch cast iron skillet and top with cheese. Broil it until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Stove Top to Oven Instructions
- Follow all the instructions above, but instead of pressure cooking, cook it on the stove in a skillet with a tight fitting lid. After pouring everything in bring to a slow bubble. Reduce to simmer (low) and cook with the lid on for 20-25 minutes. Watch it. It's done when the rice is cooked through and the vegetables are soft.
- You can still transfer it to an oven safe dish or 12 inch. cast iron (choose something safe to broil in) and add cheese.
This post was updated on 1/7/2023.