Zucchini Rice

4.75 from 4 votes

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This is my favorite style of home-cooking 🏠❤️: an easy, healthy, balanced dish made from humble ingredients. My mom and I have been making this recipe for as long as I can remember and it’s a go-to lunch or dinner in our house. We love to pair this recipe with some plain yogurt as a “sauce” or a bowl of Cold Cucumber Soup (aka Tarator) 🥒. The beauty of this recipe is it requires minimal ingredients but delivers maximum flavor. Where I’m from in Bulgaria 🇧🇬, we are known for throwing random ingredients in a pot and making a meal from “nothing”; this recipe embodies that way of living.

Why You’ll Love Zucchini Rice

This meal comes together in less than 20 minutes and is packed with fiber, protein, and carbs 👊. It’s the perfect answer to busy weekdays, when you hardly have the time or energy to cook. Start with a pot of rice and while that steams, fry up your favorite ground meat with some zucchini. Of course you can use any ground meat of choice, and for that matter, any vegetable or variety of rice. This recipe is endlessly customizable. Think of like a European fried rice 🍚.

How to Prepare Zucchini Rice

🍚 Rinse the rice well and then cook the rice per the package instructions and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the dish.

🍗 In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the ground meat and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Using a wooden spatula, break up the meat and stir while it cooks, 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and no pink remains.

🧅 Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and remove the skillet from the heat.

🍽 Stir in the fresh dill, if using, and the cooked rice. Gently mix everything together and enjoy.

Nonna’s Tip

This recipe comes together even more seamlessly if you “cheat” with the rice: use leftover cooked rice, microwave rice, or try using a rice cooker, which is completely hands-off cooking. 🍚

Ground Meat and Rice

Variations and Substitutions for Zucchini Rice

  1. Rice not fitting into your low-carb diet? ⚖️ No problem! You can make this with cauliflower rice instead.
  2. All varieties of rice work here: brown, short grain, Basmati, sushi, and wild rice.
  3. Vegetarians can enjoyed this with a plant-based meat substitute. 🪴
  4. Mushrooms are delicious in this dish! 🍄 Add them instead of or alongside the zucchini.
  5. Any ground meat is good in this recipe: chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or lamb.

Similar Recipes

Best Served With

  • I love to enjoy this with a bowl of Cold Cucumber Soup 🥒.
  • You can’t go wrong with a side of Tzatziki.
  • Pickled Onions are a great condiment to have on hand to add some zest and crunch to this meal.
  • A simple green salad always feels like it balances out a meal perfectly.

Common Questions

Can i use a different kind of ground meat?

Yes, all varieties of ground meat are good here: chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, and beef.

How do you cook the rice?

I like to use a rice cooker or follow the directions on the package, which usually have you combine the rice in a pot of water, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until all the water has been absorbed.

Does the garlic taste raw?

If you finely mince the garlic and add it to the hot pan, it mostly gets cooked but leaves a pungent flavor. If you prefer it more mild, add the garlic along with the vegetables.

Is this a good meal prep recipe?

YES! It reheats so well in the microwave or on the stovetop. You can portion it out and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Can i use frozen vegetables?

Definitely! Frozen spinach or a chopped veggie medley would be perfect here.

Zucchini Rice

Zucchini Rice with Meat

This is my favorite style of home-cooking 🏠❤️: an easy, healthy, balanced dish made from humble ingredients. This meal comes together in less than 20 minutes and is packed with fiber, protein, and carbs 👊.
4.75 from 4 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Bulgarian
Servings: 4
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup jasmine rice , (or your favorite rice)
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil, or any neutral oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey, or any ground meat you like
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 handful fresh dill, finely chopped

Instructions 

  • Rinse the rice well and then cook the rice per the package instructions and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the dish.
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the ground meat and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Using a wooden spatula, break up the meat and stir while it cooks, 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and no pink remains.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and remove the skillet from the heat.
  • Stir in the fresh dill, if using, and the cooked rice. Gently mix everything together and enjoy.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 410kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 65mg, Potassium: 562mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 127IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Bulgarian
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

4.75 from 4 votes (1 rating without comment)

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This turned out fantastic and was super easy to make!
    We are not big dill fans so we added savory instead – I topped it with some greek yogurt while husband did some parmesan cheese. All versions were delicious.
    Will be adding this to my “go-to” recipes list.

    1. All of that sounds DELICIOUS, Rossitza! Thank you for sharing these variations and for the rating! I appreciate it! 🥰❤️

  2. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe, but to take it to the next level I added some ground spices — cumin, oregano, paprika… and the secret ingredient — TRUST ME ON THIS, is CINNAMON. Seriously. About 1/4 tsp at the end and it just gives the best flavour bomb. It’s so warm, rich and filling, especially if you use lamb as the meat.

  3. I’ve made this a few times. Always good! This time, I added a little smoked paprika and cumin to the ground turkey as it cooked and I threw in some carrots and mushrooms with the zucchini and onions. 10/10. It really brought all the ingredients together. Love this!