Zucchini, Beef and Yogurt Casserole

Summary: Casseroles don't often make you think of summertime, but this one works. Zucchini strips are layered with a beef-brown rice blend into which a mint-pistachio yogurt sauce has been stirred. Light, healthy and easy to make ahead.

Yield: serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cup chopped onion, (about 1 medium)
  • tablespoons  minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (preferably from grass-fed happy cows)
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • cup cooked brown rice
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large zucchini
  • ¾ cup roasted, salted pistachios, shelled
  • ⅓ cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (2%)
  • extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. When hot, add the onions, garlic and salt, and cook until the onions are becoming translucent and soft, about 8 minutes. Add the ground beef and lemon zest, and continue to cook and stir until beef is just cooked through. Stir in the brown rice and season with several grinds of fresh black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Wash the zucchini and slice lengthwise into strips about 1/8" thick (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4"). Set aside.

In a mini-prep (small food processor), put the pistachios and mint and pulse until pretty finely ground. Stir into the Greek yogurt. Stir 3/4 of this yogurt mixture into the beef-rice mixture.

In an 8x8" glass or ceramic baking dish, put 4-5 zucchini strips; you want to make a single layer of snugly fit strips. Drizzle with a little olive oil and then spread half the beef mixture over. Put another layer of zucchini, the rest of the beef mixture, and a final layer of zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil and cover the dish with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more.

Serve with the remaining yogurt sauce.