RECIPE: Cousa Mahshi, Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini

image-stuffed-zucchinis

A specialty of the Middle East, stuffed zukes are favorites with young and old.

In a Tel Aviv supermarket, I watched a mother soothing her tired, hungry little boy. “Just another few minutes, and then we’ll go to Grandmother’s house for lunch!” The little boy sniffled, looked up, and asked, “Are there going to be memoula’im (stuffed vegetables)?”

You can bet that Grandmother had an array of stuffed zucchini, eggplants, and maybe artichoke hearts for her family. Although you can sometimes pick up the vegetables all ready for stuffing  in Arabic grocery stores, countless Middle Eastern cooks still pride themselves on their skill at hollowing them out. I myself bought a special peeler with a long, curved blade for this in Nazereth. The video below taught me how to use it. And if you have freekah around, you might enjoy using it instead of rice in this recipe. Treat it exactly the same as the rice.

Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini

4 servings

Ingredients

12 medium zucchini, rinsed

1/2 lb. – 250 grams ground beef or lamb

2 cups rice soaked in warm water 30 minutes

2 tablespoons pine nuts, skillet-toasted in 1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground allspice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

8 cups water

 Cook the meat in 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring to break it up. Add the seasonings and cook another few minutes – about 10 in all

Drain the rice. Mix it with the meat and pine nuts and seasonings in a bowl. Cover and set aside.

Trim the rough flower end of each zucchini, keeping the slice level. Cut a thin slice from the stem (bottom) end.

Hollow out each zucchini with a peeler or sharp, thin, flexible knife, taking care not to pierce the bottoms.

Stuff each zucchini half-way up with the meat mixture.

Fry the chopped onion with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan large enough to cook the zucchini in. When the onions are golden, add the tomato paste and 8 cups water.

Bring the liquids to a boil. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.

Place the zucchini in the sauce. Cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.

To test for doneness, pierce one zuke with a toothpick or thin knife. When all are tender and the rice is cooked, remove them to a platter and keep warm.

Reduce the sauce by boiling it another 15 minutes or till thick.

Spoon the reduced sauce over the zucchini and serve.

Enjoy!

More tantalizing recipes from Green Prophet:

Photo of stuffed zukes by mbp via Flickr.

 

Facebook Comments

Comments

comments

3 thoughts on “RECIPE: Cousa Mahshi, Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini”

  1. bonnie says:

    The meat can be cooked. In America the store-bought hamburger meat is very high in fat (and water). I tend to cook it before stuffing. I wanted to add: If you haven’t a good tool to core the zucchini, a long-handled iced tea spoon works well. Use the hand end to core with. It has an added benefit of being a blunt object that doesn’t puncture easily. Still requires practice. Most Americans cut them in half and cook them as stuffed zucchini boats in the oven.

    I’m like the traditional. I take pride in this skill. For non-zucchini lovers I leave very little zucchini meat and core it very near the skin. I use the left-over cored zucchini meat for zucchini bread storing the extras in the freezer for a later zucchini loaf or two.

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m cooking tonight for someone special and wanted to add all of the traditional spices and herbs.

    Happy cousa!

  2. cathy says:

    Step 1. You don’t cook the meat at all…..

  3. Pat says:

    I was watching ‘Diners, Drive-ins & Dives’ on the Food Network and saw a Lebanese Restaurant serving this dish It is definitely one I have to try.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

thirteen − seven =