Simple Beef and Vegetable Casserole
I plan meals for each week and have designated Monday my grocery store day. This past Monday a rarity occurred. I had a good amount of food leftover from the previous week. I'm certainly not complaining, but I wanted to finish off last week's food before I began cooking the food I bought that Monday. We were having a friend over for dinner, and I wanted to cook something that would make plenty for all of us to eat. I assessed what food I had: a few potatoes, one zucchini, some onions, and a little cooked hamburger meat. I also had quite a bit of cheese.... My mind quickly began thinking of a casserole-type dish. Despite the tastiness of casseroles or potato dishes with the creamy or milky sauce added to it, we've started a health initiative. That means I need to stay away from cooking things like that. My husband's aunt is known for her cheesy potatoes, which I can't quite replicate, so there's another reason to stay away from dishes like that. We can save those meals for some cheat meals during family get togethers.
Therefore, I decided to create a really simple casserole that was not only really easy to make, but it was also very healthy... well, the cheese on top made it's health benefits go down quite a bit, BUT it was worth it!
First thing, pull out a good cutting board. That is the longest part of the recipe: slicing vegetables. Note that if you don't have any cooked hamburger meat, now is a great time to throw it in a skillet. I had some leftover, but the timing would work out quite well to cook the beef while you're slicing up those veggies.
Start off with your potatoes. I took what I had leftover, which was about 5 medium-sized golden potatoes. Slice them into little cubes. The thickness of them is your preference, but try to mkae them as uniform as possible so that they cook evenly. You can peel them if you want, but I left most of the skin on mine.
Pour all the potato cubes into a bowl, add some olive oil and salt and pepper. Now here's a trick. Put them into the microwave and cook for 3 or 4 minutes (but only in 90 second or 2 minute increments, stirring in between). Potatoes cook a long time to cook. Some recipes call for putting the potatoes in the pan and into the oven for 20 or so minutes, then adding in your other ingredients. I like to save a bit of the time and pop them in the microwave. It gives them enough of a head start for them to cook all the way with the other veggies and shortens the time it takes to make this.
While your potatoes are nuking, grab a zucchini squash and chop it into cubes as well. The same goes for this - thickness doesn't matter too much, but get them as close to the same size as possible.
Once your potatoes are done nuking, add in your zucchini to the same bowl and add a touch of more olive oil. You don't want too much, but just enough to where the zucchini will roast well instead of drying out. Add in some salt and pepper.
Grab your casserole dish and spray a bit of olive oil on the bottom to keep your ingredients from sticking, or you could butter it. It's your preference. Pour all the potatoes and zucchini into the dish and spread them out evenly.
Grab your hamburger meat (either fresh off the stove or from your fridge) and sprinkle it out evenly on top of the veggies. I used about 1/2 of a pound. You can do more or less beef, depending on your preferences.
Now back to the cutting board. Grab an onion and chop about 1/4 of it into small pieces. Scatter it across the top of the other ingredients.
Now for the good part. Add a few handfuls of cheddar cheese atop the casserole.
Now pop the whole dish in a pre-heated oven (400 degrees F) for about 20 minutes.
While it's cooking...
Kick back. Read a book. Do the dishes. Set the table. Anything you like.
Check on it around 20 minutes. You want the outside of the zucchini just starting to look wrinkly. You can pop it back in the oven for a few minutes or remove it if it's done.
Once it's done, remove and let it cool just a bit. Then serve it right up! I might add that a touch of Parmesan adds some nice flavor to it... Enjoy!
- 4-5 medium golden potatoes, cubed
- 1 medium zucchini, cubed
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- About 1/2 pound ground hamburger, browned
- Cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cube the potatoes, then pour them in a microwaveable bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper. Nuke in the microwave for 3-4 minutes in no more than 2 minute increments.
- Cube the zucchini. Once the potatoes are finished nuking, add in the zucchini and a touch of olive oil. Stir well. Then pour all into a casserole dish.
- Add the hamburger meat and chopped onions. Then add cheddar cheese, if desired. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.