This delicious grass-fed ground beef and summer squash skillet is a healthy dinner I love to make this time of year. All the fresh vegetables you need are in season right now. That means you can buy the ingredients at the farmers market, including the grass-fed ground beef.
A skillet is one of those easy one-pot meals that’s perfect for a busy weeknight. And it’s healthy too. Made with whole food ingredients and grass-fed beef, your entire family will actually feel good after dinner.
I make this grass-fed beef skillet on the regular in my home. It’s farm-to-table cooking and healthy comfort food all wrapped up in one easy dish!
Summer is well under way and I’m thrilled to be back in North Carolina for awhile, escaping the heat in Florida. The Asheville area has a fantastic farmers market scene and it is hopping right now!
I actually created this recipe last summer while in Asheville. The summer squash in North Carolina are especially delicious, so I always pick up a couple at the farmers market.
One evening last summer I was light on food but still had some grass-fed ground beef, a couple summer squash and onion. So I threw them together in a sauté pan for dinner. It was surprisingly delicious for something so simple, and a perfect way to use those summer squash.
Since then I’ve started making it with tomatoes. And tomatoes made the dish complete. A recipe was born!
Let’s talk about the fresh and simple ingredients you’ll need to make this easy dinner recipe.
Ground Beef Skillet Ingredients
1. Grass-Fed Ground Beef
I’m cooking with a pound of grass-fed ground beef from White Oak Pastures in Georgia. When buying ground beef for this recipe I recommend lean ground beef so there’s less excess grease to drain off.
And as usual, I buy only 100% grass-fed beef vs grain-fed beef.
I prefer to buy grass-fed beef because grass is the natural diet for cows. Most beef is grain-fed beef. Grains are a cheap and easy food source, but they are not healthy for a cow.
When we buy grass-fed beef we’re supporting farmers that are doing the right thing by the animals they raise and the land they raise them on.
But beware, grass-fed does not mean the meat didn’t come from a factory feed lot. I explain that and more over in my article about what I’ve learned about buying grass-fed beef.
2. Summer Squash
Green zucchini isn’t the only variety of summer squash you’ll find at the farmers market. This recipe is a great way to try out some others, such as cousa and zephyr, or yellow zucchini. You’ll need three small summer squash (6 to 8 inches long).
Today I’m cooking with three different summer squash, but you can use all fresh zucchini if you prefer.
FYI: I do not recommend chayote or pattypan squash (too dense and crunchy). Or yellow squash (too seedy and delicate inside).
A pound of slicer tomatoes, which is about two tomatoes.
You’ll be cooking them, so it’s Ok if they are not perfectly ripe. But for maximum flavor they should be pretty close to ripe if not.
If you want a lower carb version of this skillet, the tomatoes can be omitted. I’ve made this as just a zucchini beef skillet a few times and it’s delicious. The tomatoes add a layer of flavor depth that is nice though.
Half a medium or large onion. Yellow or white is fine. This should come out to around 1.5 to 2 cups of diced onion.
I season this grass-fed ground beef skillet with a little dried oregano, sea salt and pepper.
How to Make this Grass-Fed Beef Dinner
This ground beef skillet is naturally gluten-free and can be made keto by omitting the tomatoes.
1. Prepare the ingredients
Dice half a medium onion into small pieces.
Cut the summer squash into rounds, then quarter each round. Small rounds can just be cut in half.
Cut the tomato into inch-wide wedges (not slices). Cut each wedge into 4 chunks. This doesn’t need to be exact, each chunk of tomato will be about an inch wide and long.
2. Fry the onion and ground beef
Warm up a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet.
When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Sauté, stirring often until the onion starts to get soft. This will take about 5 minutes.
Add the raw ground beef to the onion and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break it up into pieces.
Cook, stirring often until the beef is browned throughout. This will take about 10 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef and onion mixture to a plate that’s covered with paper towel.
Some grease left in the skillet is helpful for frying the summer squash in the next step. Sop up any excess with a piece of paper towel.
3. Stir-fry the summer squash and tomatoes
Add the chopped summer squash to the hot skillet and sauté until it’s soft, but not mushy. This will take about 10 minutes.
Next, add the chopped tomatoes to the squash. Stir well and simmer very low for 5 minutes with no lid. This will help break down the tomatoes and meld the flavors.
4. Combine the cooked beef and season to serve
Reduce the heat to low and add the ground beef and onion mixture back to the skillet with the squash and tomatoes.
Sprinkle with oregano and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you feel it needs more oregano, add that now.
I personally don’t add additional oregano, and I season with 6 twists of my salt mill and 6 twists of my pepper mill. But you do you.
Remove from heat and serve.
Left overs can cool in the skillet. Then transfer them to an airtight container in your fridge.
If you enjoy this recipe and want more grass-fed beef recipes, I have something you’ll love! I made a list of the best healthy ground beef recipes I could find. And they are all made with grass-fed ground beef.
What to Serve with this Grass-Fed Ground Beef Skillet
You can enjoy this skillet all on its own as a healthy, low carb meal. Or if you’d like a side, I suggest:
- Sourdough bread
- Spaghetti squash
- Cauliflower rice
- Regular white or brown rice
Make this a Keto Ground Beef Recipe
After consulting with a friend in the keto recipe space, I’m happy to say this can be a keto ground beef casserole with just one modification!
Omit the tomatoes to make this a keto ground beef recipe.
Here is the net carb breakdown per one serving:
- 1/3 lb grass-fed ground beef – 0g net carbs
- 1 small zucchini – 3g net carbs
- White onion – 2.2g net carbs for 1/4 of a white onion
- 1/2 tsp oregano – 0.15g net carbs
- Salt – 0g net carbs (this dish really does need some salt)
- Black pepper – use only what you’re comfortable with, or omit
Total net carbs: 5.35g net carbs.
Substitutions (Ground pork?)
If you’re wondering if you can make this skillet with ground pork, the answer is yes! I’ve made something very similar with ground pork from the farmers market and it was delicious.
Can you make this recipe with ground turkey? The answer is, I’m not sure. I haven’t tried it, but I hear that ground turkey is not as flavorful as ground beef or ground pork. So with the limited seasonings in my recipe, you may find it bland with ground turkey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this ground beef skillet with canned tomatoes?
I haven’t tried making this recipe with canned tomatoes. I expect it would taste OK, but won’t recommend it unless I’ve tried it. If you do try it, please post in the comments and let us know how it was!
Does grass-fed ground beef cook differently than regular ground beef?
In my experience, grass-fed ground beef cooks the same as regular ground beef. If you buy lean beef (90%+) it’ll cook up faster than ground beef that is not lean. But that’s the case regardless whether you buy grass-fed or grain-fed beef.
Does grass-fed ground beef taste different than regular ground beef?
It has been awhile since I’ve cooked with regular ground beef, but I sometimes have it at restaurants. What I notice is that grass-fed ground beef has a lighter taste. It’s hard to explain and probably subtle. When I make this grass-fed beef recipe, and other recipes with grass-fed beef, the meal tastes lighter and fresher.
If you’d like more easy ground beef recipes check out my hamburger and macaroni recipe. It’s a family favorite!
Grass-Fed Ground Beef & Summer Squash Skillet Recipe
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 medium yellow or white onion
- 1 lb grass-fed ground beef lean
- 3 small summer squash (zucchini, cousa)
- 1 lb fresh tomatoes
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by preparing the ingredients. Dice the onion into small pieces. Cut the summer squash into rounds, then quarter each round. Small rounds can just be cut in half.Cut the tomato into inch-wide wedges (not slices). Cut each wedge into 4 chunks. This doesn’t need to be exact, each chunk of tomato should be about an inch wide and long.
- Warm up a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil.When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Sauté, stirring often until the onion starts to get soft. This will take about 5 minutes.Add the raw ground beef to the onion and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break it up into pieces.Cook, stirring often until the beef is browned throughout. This will take about 10 minutes.Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef and onion mixture to a plate that’s covered with paper towel.Some grease left in the skillet is helpful for frying the summer squash in the next step. Sop up any excess with a piece of paper towel.
- Add the chopped summer squash to the hot skillet and sauté until it’s soft, but not mushy. This will take about 10 minutes.Next, add the chopped tomatoes to the squash. Stir well and simmer very low for 5 minutes with no lid. This will help break down the tomatoes and meld the flavors.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the ground beef and onion mixture back to the skillet with the squash and tomatoes.Sprinkle with oregano and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve.