Tonight, I had a craving for some homemade bread. And what better to go with bread than a veggie centered meal? It's nearing the end of our garden harvest and I happened to have two large zucchini and generous handful of cherry tomatoes to use. Whenever I have fresh zucchini from the garden, my go-to meal is Zucchini and Ground Beef Skillet. It's basically a zucchini boat, but less labor intensive and certainly faster to make. It's light, and summery, and delicious.
Just look at all those vegetables!
I'm getting ahead of myself....before we talk about that lovely skillet dish, let's talk bread. I love baking bread. There is something magical about combining a handful of simple ingredients and watching them turn into the wonder that is bread. I have lots of different recipes that I use for breads, but I found this Dutch Oven No Knead Bread recipe and tutorial from Bowl of Delicious and have really enjoyed making it. For detailed instructions on how to make this bread, click on over to Bowl of Delicious.
Just for a quick recap of the recipe and process, you combine warm water, yeast, salt, and flour - it literally takes less than 5 minutes to stir up the dough.
I used a slotted wooden spoon to stir the dough - word to the wise: Don't use a slotted wooden spoon - it's a pain to clean dough out of the slots! However, Pro Tip: Wash uncooked dough with cold water, not hot. Hot water starts the cooking process and makes the dough harder to clean up. Cold water just thins the dough out and makes it easier to wash off of bowls.....and slotted wooden spoons ;) ;)
Once you've combined the dough it will be sticky. That's perfect! Drape a kitchen towel of the bowl and let it rise for a couple of hours. Mine was to the top of the bowl after 2 hours. Then you dump it in a hot cast iron Dutch oven and bake it for 40 minutes. (Yes, you can gingerly form a loaf with that sticky dough, but I honestly just dumped it out of the bowl, scraping the sides with a spatula, directly into the dutch oven and called it good). It is ridiculously simple, and tastes like chewy, crusty artisan bread. It's a great way to spruce up a simple meal. Here is what mine looked like when it came out of the oven:
And look at the texture on that bread! It's so good and so simple.
As soon as I put my bread in the oven, I started making my skillet meal.
Here is what you need to make enough to serve 3 adults:
1/2 pound of ground beef
2-3 large zucchinis
1 large onion
15 cherry tomoatoes
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Slice your zucchini lengthwise into fourths, then chop into 1/4 inch thick slices. Chop the onion - I like bigger pieces for this meal, so I slice the onion into 1/4 x 1 inch pieces.
Crumble fry the ground beef in a large skillet. Break the beef up with a spatula while it cooks. Salt the ground beef and let it brown. Once cooked, remove from skillet into a bowl and set aside.
Add the zucchini and onion to the skillet and simmer them in the beef drippings over medium-low heat with a lid for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally. There is enough water content in the zucchini to provide steam, but if your heat is too high, it is easy to burn the zucchini, so keep an eye on it and add tablespoon or two of water as needed.
While the zucchini and onions are cooking, slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
After simmering the zucchini and onions on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes (or until desired doneness of zucchini is reached - you may like yours less cooked than I do), add the cooked ground beef to the pan along with the sliced cherry tomatoes. Add the minced garlic and sprinkle on the Italian seasoning. Stir until combined.
Put the lid back on and simmer for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: At this point, you could add 1/2 cup of pasta sauce and some cheese if you want to bring it up a notch. I opted for simple this time around.
And there you go! An easy, relatively fast, and budget friendly meal that won't disappoint.