Serve up this Healthy Turkey, Zucchini and Rice Casserole for an easy dinner packed with lean protein and veggies. A great make-ahead dinner option!
This easy turkey, zucchini & rice casserole takes advantage of one of summer’s most prolific veggies (zucchini!), but can be enjoyed all year round. It’s a great make-ahead option on my list of favorite healthy dinner ideas and still tastes great when reheated for lunch the next day. We like to serve it with a green salad to round out the meal.
As a fellow zucchini lover and firm supporter of seasonal vegetables in all their multitude, I feel it is my duty to provide you with as many zucchini recipes as possible. Baked zucchini fries (my kids' favorite), zucchini roll-ups and turkey zucchini meatballs (the squash haters will never know!) are just the starting point.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS TURKEY, ZUCCHINI & RICE CASSEROLE:
These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links included):
- Ground turkey: The recipe call for extra lean (99%) ground turkey, but lean (93%) is also a good option.
- Mushrooms: Portobello mushrooms are fantastic in this casserole. Crimini (Baby Bella) mushrooms can also be used - cut them into quarters or halves, depending on size.
- Zucchini: Dice the zucchini into ¾-inch pieces.
- Rice: Used cooked rice for the casserole. Brown rice is a good option for adding fiber, but feel free to use white rice if preferred.
- Tomatoes: One can of crushed tomatoes.
- Aromatics: Yellow or white onion and freshly minced garlic.
- Spices: Oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Adjust the red pepper flakes depending on how much you prefer.
- Cheese: Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over top of the casserole.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
How to make a rice casserole:
I was on a roll with posting rice casseroles for awhile and it's high time for another version, this one involving zucchini, of course.
It all started with my favorite Greek Turkey, Rice & Feta Casserole, then morphed to teriyaki (think stir fry-type flavors and veggies) and southwestern (black beans, corn and chiles...oh my!) versions.
The formula is the same for each of the casseroles, with the sauce and mix-ins changing dependent on the flavor profile.
Saute the ground turkey (or beef or cooked beans, if you prefer), onion, garlic and spices, then stir in the other vegetables, sauce and cooked rice (a great way to use up leftover rice!)
Transfer everything to a casserole dish, top with cheese (in some cases) and bake for about 20 minutes. One of the easiest dinners that's also great as leftovers!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can this zucchini rice casserole be made ahead of time?
Yes! You have a couple of options here.
The first option is to make the casserole in its entirety, let it cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat it, simply reheat portions in the microwave.
The second option is to prepare the components ahead of time – cook the rice, brown the ground turkey and chop the vegetables. Sauté the vegetables, combine everything and bake the casserole just before serving.
There is actually one final option, but it’s my least favorite. In this method, you would assemble the casserole completely, cover and refrigerate, then bake before serving. With this method, I find that the sautéed vegetables tend to release a lot of liquid, making the casserole a bit soupy.
Can I use white rice?
If you're not a fan of brown rice or don't have any on hand, swap in white rice instead. To tell you the truth, you likely won't be able to tell the difference in taste, so it's easy enough to sneak in some extra fiber with the brown rice.
Alternatively, use cooked quinoa, barley or farro.
How do I make this casserole vegetarian or vegan?
This is an easy one! Leave out the ground turkey and replace it with cook or canned beans. For this recipe, white kidney beans (cannellini beans), black beans, red kidney beans or even chickpeas work well.
For a vegan option, leave off the cheese, or use a vegan cheese option or sprinkle some nutritional yeast over top.
Easy Turkey, Zucchini & Rice Casserole
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
- ½ onion chopped
- ¾ teaspoon salt divided
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper divided
- 2 Portobello mushrooms stems removed & gills scraped, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ¼ cup chopped zucchini ¾-inch dice
- 3 large garlic cloves minced
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 ¾ cup cooked brown rice
- ½ cup packed grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley divided
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 8- by 12-inch or 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, onions, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. Cook, breaking up the turkey with a wooden spoon, until the turkey is browned.
- Stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes, and cook until the vegetables are starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the rice, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons parsley.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese on top and bake until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted and starting to brown, about 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Serve.
This post was first published on August 7, 2017 and updated on August 31, 2021.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.