Can I just gripe for a second about the lack of variety of recipes on the internet when it comes to ground beef? It’s a staple in my freezer, but let’s be honest, it rarely gets used for much beyond tacos, chili, and pasta dishes. The internet seems to have the same lack of inspiration. I was pretty happy to stumble across this little gem of a recipe after ambling around on my iPhone for ideas.
This quick weeknight dinner takes about twenty minutes to make, and is made extra-healthy with the addition of quinoa. You won’t even know it’s in there! The quinoa adds lovely body to the beef, and also makes the dish stretch a lot further than your 500 g / 1 lb of beef would otherwise. I have to admit too that I love serving up dishes in lettuce cups. They add such crunch and juiciness! Plus, they’re guilt-free which is always a bonus. This dish is somewhat reminiscent of the Chinese restaurant favourite San Choy Bau, but the spices I’ve used are almost Moroccan in flavour. Get ready for a new weeknight fave!
Healthy Beef & Quinoa Lettuce Cups
Serves: about 4
Cooking time: 20 minutes
- 500 g / 1 lb ground (minced) beef, as lean as possible (defrost ahead of time!)
- 1 red or brown onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red or green capsicum / pepper or chili (I didn’t use but it’d go great)
- 1 small zucchini, chopped fairly fine
- 1 tsp each cinnamon, coriander, and cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- handful fresh mint or parsley
- 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups nearly boiling water (don’t have quinoa? use cous cous or rice instead)
- salt and pepper
- 6-8 lettuce cups for serving (use inner leaves of a cos or iceberg lettuce head)
Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium-high heat with a tablespoon of oil. Add onion, garlic, zucchini, and pepper/chili if using, saute for a few minutes until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Add your beef, breaking it up into smaller chunks as you add it to the pan. Cook beef until no more pink is visible, breaking up larger chunks into smaller chunks as you go. Chop your mint or parsley leaves finely and stir through beef.
While beef is cooking, place your quinoa and the two cups of nearly boiling water in a small pot and bring to a simmer; cover for about 12-15 minutes until moisture has been absorbed. Stir frequently.
When everything is cooked, stir quinoa through beef mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper or other spices as needed. Spoon into your washed lettuce cups. Garnish with a bit more of the chopped fresh herbs and some cucumbers, and enjoy!