Experience the magic of cooking orzo in the oven.
My partner said this casserole was one of his favorite new recipes in the last month, and I hope it lives up to that when you try it! I’m not a huge casserole person, but I think this is the dish that made me see the light. It comes together quickly, it tastes incredible and it’s comforting without feeling super heavy.
Let’s do it!
The main ingredients in this casserole are ground beef, orzo pasta, zucchini and two types of cheeses (ricotta and mozzarella). Of course, there are many ways to customize!
All the swaps and additions you can make:
- Swap ground beef for ground turkey, chicken or pork. Note that I didn’t test it with these meats, but I’m confident they’ll work great!
- Swap zucchini for broccoli, peas, spinach, kale or cauliflower
- You can use canned tomato sauce OR your favorite jarred tomato sauce. I tested this with both (canned and Rao’s) and it was great both ways!
- Can’t find orzo or can’t eat it? Use rice or another short pasta (penne, rotini, farfalle etc) of your choice. If you’re GF, note you can order GF orzo on Amazon here!!
- Mozzarella isn’t a must. I tested it with mozz and a Mexican blend of shredded cheese – both were delicious. If all you have on hand is shredded cheddar or another blend, feel free to use that instead of buying a new type of cheese.
- Are you dairy-free? Here’s our cashew ricotta recipe (no soaking required!) and our tofu ricotta recipe.
This recipe is a good chance to use up fresh herbs.
Fresh rosemary, sage, oregano and basil could all work in this recipe if you have any extra on hand. Don’t use all four at once (pick one or two) and throw it in to the mix on step 3.
I can’t wait for you try out this insanely simple, yet delicious, casserole!
To double this recipe, simply double the ingredients. You may need a larger baking dish (and more cook time in the oven if that’s the case), or bake it in two separate baking dishes.
Storage & reheating notes:
This casserole can last for up to 5 days in the fridge and it’s freezer-friendly for up to 6 months. Reheat it in the microwave, in the oven or on the stove.
If you enjoyed this recipe, go ahead and Save it to your Easy Meal Prep board!
Ground Beef, Orzo And Zucchini Casserole
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
- cooking spray
- 2 TBSP olive oil divided
- 2 small zucchini sliced into rounds
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 16 oz ground beef sub ground meat of your choice
- 1 shallot chopped
- 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes sub marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese see dairy-free options in the notes below
- 1 cup shredded cheese I used a Mexican blend, mozzarella is best
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat your oven to 350 F and prepare a large baking dish with cooking spray (I used 9x13).
- Add half the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. After a minute or two, add the sliced zucchini, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until the zucchini rounds are tender-crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the skillet with the ground meat, chopped shallot and more salt and pepper. Break up the ground meat with a wooden spoon and cook, stirring frequently, until it's no longer pink, about 7-10 minutes.
- To a large bowl, add the uncooked orzo, cooked zucchini, cooked beef, crushed tomatoes, riccotta cheese, shredded cheese, thyme and red pepper flakes. Add more salt and pepper too. Mix everything together.
- Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until it's bubbling at the edges. That's it!
DAIRY-FREE RICOTTA OPTIONS
Tofu ricotta: 14 oz firm tofu (drained), 1 lemon (juiced), 2 TBSP nutritional yeast, 1 tsp salt. Blend in blender or food processor.
Cashew ricotta: 1 cup raw unsalted cashews soaked in boiled (not actively boiling) water for 15 minutes, 1 lemon (juiced), 2 TBSP nutritional yeast, 1/3 cup water, 1 tsp salt. Blend in a blender or food processor.