Italian Rice Skillet with Zucchini, Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes


Weeknight or weekend, easy meals are my deal. To be honest, I grew up on very simple comfort food, so even when I get the chance to trial a full-on culinary experience, I’m often underwhelmed and left craving something more basic … like this Italian Rice Skillet.

Italian Rice Skillet with Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Speedy Homemade Turkey Sausage - a healthy 30 minute meal! Dairy-free, gluten-free.

Thanks to the year-round availability of zucchini, this Italian rice skillet can be enjoyed regardless of the season. However, it really is a nourishing treat in summer, when zucchini is at its sweetest and you can even sun dry your own tomatoes.

I originally created a version of this Italian rice skillet recipe for Applegate Farms, using their dairy-free dinner sausage (note that one variety contains cheese). You can go with this shortcut route, but I’ve become a big fan of speedy homemade sausage using lean ground turkey. It’s so easy to mix up, is typically healthier, and adds that rustic, fresh appeal.

Italian Rice Skillet with Zucchini, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Speedy Homemade Turkey Sausage - a healthy 30 minute meal! Dairy-free, gluten-free.

Special Diet Notes: Italian Rice Skillet

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and generally top food allergy-friendly.

For a paleo Italian rice skillet, swap in cauliflower “rice” for the rice. Steam cauliflower florets and finely mince or mince raw cauliflower and add it to your skillet a few minutes before the zucchini (more oil may be needed).

For a vegan Italian rice skillet, you can skip the homemade turkey sausage and add your favorite vegan Italian sausage. We really like Neat Italian Mix (which is soy-free & gluten-free) and I’ve heard good things about Field Roast.

Italian Rice Skillet with Zucchini, Speedy Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
To allow the flavors time to meld, I usually mix the spices with the turkey before putting the rice on. Alternatively, you can prepare the rice and mix the turkey with the spices (store it covered in the refrigerator) up to a day in advance. If you want to reduce the sodium, I recommend cutting the salt in the sausage to ½ or ¾ teaspoon, and using the range recommended in the instructions for seasoning at the end. That final touch of salt will have the biggest flavor impact.
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt + additional to taste (see Instructions)
  • ½ teaspoon + ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder or minced onion
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • 1½ lbs zucchini, cut into ¼- to ½-inch thick half moons
  • ½ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes (drained if in oil)
  • 3 cups cooked (leftover) brown or white rice
  1. Place the Italian seasoning, parsley, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, fennel seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and paprika in a spice grinder, and pulse several times to break up the seeds and seasonings and to combine.
  2. Place the turkey in a bowl and stir in the seasoning with a fork until well distributed, but do not over mix.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic (if using) and saute for 15 seconds. Add the seasoned meat and cook, breaking it into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the turkey and garlic to a bowl using a slotted spoon (leave the juices / oil in the pan).
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the zucchini and sauté until it just begins to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, followed by the cooked meat and garlic, and finally the rice. Saute everything together for 1 to 2 minutes, to coat.
  6. Season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon black pepper and salt, to taste (I usually end up adding ½ to ¾ teaspoon).

About Author

Alisa is the founder of, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.


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  3. My mom would make a meal very similar to this growing up with squash from her garden. However, I am in love with your addition of sundried tomatoes!

  4. I’m with you on simple comfort food – and this skillet rice and spiced turkey dish sounds perfect when comfort food is in order. Love the idea of making homemade sausage without the fuss of sausage casings.

    • Yes, we’ve become a bit addicted to making our own speedy sausage – it has a better texture and fresher taste. But it does benefit from seasoning ahead if planning.

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