spicy beef zucchini bake (Whole30/paleo/clean)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • ½ pound (250g) lean ground beef
  • 1 cup (150 g) diced pancetta
  • ½ large red onion (or 1 small onion)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili pepper (or other spicy pepper), seeded and minced
  • 1 14-ounce (400 g) can of chopped tomatoes.
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach (approximately 125 g)
  • 1 cup ground almond meal
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, for seasoning
  1. Wash the zucchini and cut the ends off. Cut each zucchini in half crosswise, then slice each half into thin, ¼-inch slices. Spread the slices out on paper towels, cover with another layer of paper towels and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a square baking dish or oval casserole dish.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions and saute until soft and almost translucent, then add the cumin and the chili powder and continue to cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onions and well-blended with the spices. If the mixture looks a little dry, splash a little more olive oil into the pan.
  4. Add the red bell pepper, garlic and minced chili pepper. Stir and continue to cook until the bell pepper is soft and everything is well blended, another 4-5 minutes. Transfer the cooked veggies to a bowl and set aside.
  5. Return the pan to the heat (no need to clean it out) and add the pancetta. Cook the pancetta over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered (i.e., melted in the pan) and the pancetta is almost crisp. Add the ground beef, turn the heat up to medium high and continue to cook until the ground beef is browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add the veggies and tomatoes, reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until the tomatoes are wilted and the sauce is thick, about 10-15 minutes. Taste the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. If the mixture tastes acidic (i.e., it has a bite), add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to sweeten the mixture a little.
  6. Layer half of the zucchini slices in the baking dish, allowing the slices to overlap slightly. Remove the ground beef mixture from the heat and spoon half of the mixture on top of the zucchini, using a spatula to spread it evenly over the zucchini.
  7. Top the zucchini with the chopped spinach in a single layer. Layer the other half of the zucchini slices on top of the spinach, then top the zucchini with the remaining sauce.
  8. Mix the ½ cup of olive oil with the ground almond meal and dried oregano, then sprinkle it on top of the sauce.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the bake is browned and the sides are bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then serve.
Recipe by Grits and Chopsticks at https://www.gritsandchopsticks.com/the-gravy-train/2018/01/spicy-beef-zucchini-bake-whole30-paleo-clean.html