This comforting Turkish pasta dish combines tender beef and zucchini with pasta, creating a satisfying meal. What sets it apart is the creamy yogurt infused with garlic.
Are you looking for a fast and effortless dinner for busy weeknights? Give this comforting Turkish pasta dish with ground beef and zucchini a shot! Packed with hearty protein, delicious veggies, and creamy garlicky yogurt, it's a delight. Plus, it's ready in just about 30 minutes!
And if you’re not keen on zucchini, no problem! Replace it with any veggie you like. How about peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans or peas? All of them are thoroughly delicious when combined with ground meat and pasta.
- Pasta: I used spaghetti this time, but feel free to use any pasta shape you have on hand – whether it's long or short.
- Ground beef: I prefer lean beef, which makes draining the excess fat from the pan unnecessary. However, if your beef has more fat (or if you go with ground lamb), consider draining the fat before adding zucchini and paprika powder.
- Zucchini: One medium or two smaller ones, you will need about 12-14 oz/ 300 -400 g.
- Greek yogurt: I prefer rich, full-fat yogurt to accompany this Turkish pasta dish. Yet, you can opt for a lower-fat yogurt – just ensure it's around 3% fat, avoiding fat-free varieties.
- Garlic: At least two garlic cloves, but I usually use more because I adore garlic.
- Paprika powder: I use unsmoked, hot paprika powder. It’s preferable to use it to taste as some brands can be spicier than others. If one teaspoon is too hot, use ½ a teaspoon hot paprika and ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder.
- Dill: Fresh or frozen dill; please don’t use dried dill; it’s useless in terms of flavor.
- Other ingredients: Olive oil for frying the beef and zucchini, fine sea salt, and ground black pepper.
- Optional: Red pepper or red chili flakes (pul biber) or a touch of cayenne pepper to sprinkle on top of the yogurt.
How to make a Turkish pasta dish?
- Cook the pasta al dente. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients (1).
- Cook the ground beef in the hot oil in a large frying pan, breaking the lumps with a spatula or wooden spoon until no longer pink (3-4 minutes) (2).
- Add the sliced zucchini (3) and hot paprika. Stir well and cook until the minced meat is cooked through and the zucchini slices are softer but not mushy (8-10 minutes). Add dill, salt and pepper to taste (4).
- Garlic yogurt: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, grated garlic, salt, and pepper to taste (5).
- Serve immediately. Divide the pasta between four plates, top with the beef sauce, and then with yogurt. If desired, sprinkle the yogurt with red pepper flakes or a little cayenne pepper.
- Meat: If the meat is fatty or if you use ground lamb, consider draining the excess fat before adding the zucchini and paprika. For a super-lean dish, make the sauce with ground turkey.
- Replace zucchini with other vegetables like peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or peas.
- Vegetable additions: Amp up the veggie content by incorporating bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, or spinach. Another great addition is toasted pine nuts on top of the yogurt.
This dish is often referred to as "Kiymali Makarna," which translates to "Pasta with Ground Beef" in Turkish.
Yes, you can substitute ground lamb for beef if you prefer. It will add a different flavor profile to the dish, but an amazingly tasty one.
You can prepare the beef and zucchini and the garlic yogurt one day ahead of time. Refrigerate the two sauces in separate airtight containers. Cook the pasta and reheat the meat sauce just before serving.
How to store and reheat?
- Separate the cooked pasta, beef sauce, and yogurt topping before storing.
- Refrigeration: Place each component in airtight containers. The pasta and beef sauce can be stored for 3-4 days, while the yogurt is best consumed within 1-2 days to retain freshness.
- Freeze only the meat sauce. Place it in an airtight container and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat before serving. However, remember that the zucchini will change its texture after freezing, becoming softer and somewhat mushy.
What to serve with Turkish-style pasta?
- Side salad: A refreshing salad with crisp greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette.
- Bread or flatbread: Serve with warm, crusty bread, pita, or flatbread to mop up the delicious sauce.
- Pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers, onions, or mixed pickles.
- Roasted vegetables: Roasted bell peppers, eggplant, or cherry tomatoes can be a flavorful and colorful side dish.
More Mediterranean recipes
- Creamy Butter Bean Hummus
- Easy Falafel Sandwich
- Spinach and Feta Muffins
- Easy Lebanese Lentil Soup
- Hummus Pasta
Give my quick recipes a try for your next family meal! Feel free to reach out if you need any assistance!
Turkish Pasta Dish (with Ground Beef and Yogurt)
- Large pot
- Frying pan
- 12.5 oz spaghetti or other pasta shapes, 350 g
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef 450 g, Note 1
- ½ - 1 teaspoon hot paprika not smoked, to taste, Note 2
- 1 medium zucchini about 12.5/ 350 g, Note 3
- 1 ½ tablespoons chopped dill divided
- 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt 350 g
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- red chili flakes or cayenne pepper, optional, to taste
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and add pasta. Cook al dente according to the package’s instructions. Drain well.12.5 oz/ 350 g pasta
- Prepare the rest of the recipe while the pasta cooks.
- Cook ground beef: Heat the oil in the pan. Add the meat and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the beef into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 lb/ 450 g ground beef
- Zucchini: In the meantime, slice the zucchini. If it’s thin, slice it into rounds; if it’s thicker, cut it into half-moons. 1 medium zucchini (12.5 oz/ 350 g)
- Add zucchini and paprika to the ground beef in the pan. Stir well and cook for another 8-10 minutes until the beef is cooked through and the zucchini slices are softer (not too soft or mushy). 1 teaspoon hot paprika OR ½ teaspoon sweet and ½ teaspoon hot paprika
- Stir in some of the chopped dill, and add salt and pepper to taste. 1 tablespoon dill + salt and pepper to taste
- Garlic yogurt: Grate the garlic cloves and add them to the yogurt. Stir to combine; add the remaining dill and salt and pepper to taste. 2 garlic cloves + 1 ½ cups/ 350 g Greek yogurt + ½ tablespoon dill + salt and pepper to taste
- Serve immediately. Divide the pasta between four plates, top with the beef sauce, and then with yogurt. If desired, sprinkle the yogurt with red chili flakes or a little cayenne pepper.
- Ground meat: Ground lamb is a great alternative.
- Paprika: I use unsmoked, hot paprika powder. It’s preferable to use it to taste as some brands can be spicier than others. If 1 teaspoon is too hot for you, use ½ a teaspoon hot paprika and ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder.
- Replace zucchini with other vegetables like peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, or spinach. Only add peas or spinach during the last 3-4 minutes of the cooking process.