One-Pan Beef and Zucchini Meatballs with Spinach Pesto and Rice

One-Pan Beef and Zucchini Meatballs with Spinach Pesto and Rice

Recipe by Joy Wilson


1 small Zucchini

1 bunch Scallions

1 pounds Ground Beef

1 large Egg

1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

3/4 cups Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 tsps Garlic Powder

1 tsps Dried Oregano

1/2 tsps Crushed Red Pepper

1 14 tsps Kosher Salt

3 tbsps Olive Oil

1 12 cups White Rice

2 13 cups Chicken Stock

1/2 cups Greek Yogurt

1 small Garlic Clove

4 cups Fresh Spinach Leaves

1/3 cups Toasted Walnuts

1 tbsps Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 tsps Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 tsps Kosher Salt

3 tbsps Olive Oil

2 tbsps Warm Water


Grate the zucchini. Trim the scallions and finely chop the green parts to yield about ½ cup (save the white parts for another use or discard them).

Place the grated zucchini and ⅓ cup of the chopped scallion greens (save the rest for later) in a medium bowl, then add the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, and salt. Stir well to evenly combine, then roll the mixture into about 12 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a tray or plate.

Heat a large nonstick ovenproof skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. (You’ll need the lid to cook the rice. If you don’t have this type of pan, you can use a medium Dutch oven with a lid, or a 10-inch skillet with a lid instead.)

Add 1½ tablespoons of the oil to the skillet, then add the meatballs and fry them until they're browned on most sides. Work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once browned, transfer the meatballs to a plate and set them aside.

In the same skillet, still over medium heat, heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil. (If there’s still enough oil left in the pan, you can skip this step.) Add the rice and stir until it’s evenly coated and toasted, about 3 minutes. Evenly pour in the chicken stock (or water).

Add the meatballs to the skillet, along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and allow everything to cook until the rice is softened, 20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the rice to steam, still covered, for 10 minutes.

While the rice and meatballs cook, make the pesto: Peel the garlic. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, combine the spinach, walnuts, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Blend until very finely chopped, then stream in the olive oil and water and blend until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl.

In a separate small bowl, stir together the remaining scallion greens with as much Greek yogurt as you like.

To serve, spoon the rice and meatballs into bowls. Top with dollops of pesto and scallion yogurt. Any leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for a few days.

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One Pot Beef and Zucchini Meatballs with Spinach Pesto

Chef Joy Wilson knows the only thing better than a new flavor combination in a familiar dish is one that can be done in a single pot. Cook along with her One-Pot Beef and Zucchini Meatballs and Spinach Pesto and get ready to make it over and over.

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