, Kousa Mahshi, Friday Night Snacks and More...

Kousa Mahshi

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, Kousa Mahshi, Friday Night Snacks and More...

Kousa Mahshi

Mike Nadelman
Kousa Mashii, which translates as “stuffed squash” in Arabic, is a satisfying yet light preparation that's popular across the Levant. The dish consists of hollowed-out zucchini filled with a mixture of spiced ground lamb and rice and slowly braised in cinnamon-accented tomato sauce until the meat is succulent and the rice tender. Soaking the rice for 10 minutes before combining it with the lamb ensured that the grains cooked evenly and thoroughly. Browning the stuffing and breaking it up with the back of a spatula created small, distinct pieces that packed lightly into the squash cavities. To give the sauce a meaty underpinning, we sautéed the aromatics in the fatty juices we drained from the lamb. After 40 minutes of braising in the velvety sauce, the zucchini was tender but not mushy and the filling was cooked through., which translates as “stuffed squash” in Arabic, is a satisfying yet light preparation that's popular across the Levant. The dish consists of hollowed-out zucchini filled with a mixture of spiced ground lamb and rice and slowly braised in cinnamon-accented tomato sauce until the meat is succulent and the rice tender. Soaking the rice for 10 minutes before combining it with the lamb ensured that the grains cooked evenly and thoroughly. Browning the stuffing and breaking it up with the back of a spatula created small, distinct pieces that packed lightly into the squash cavities. To give the sauce a meaty underpinning, we sautéed the aromatics in the fatty juices we drained from the lamb. After 40 minutes of braising in the velvety sauce, the zucchini was tender but not mushy and the filling was cooked through.
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Total Time 2 hrs
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Lamb, Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients
  

Hashweh (Stuffing):

  • ½ cup long-grain white rice
  • 8 ounces ground lamb or Beef
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 small onion chopped coarse
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 pounds tomatoes cored and chopped coarse
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Zucchini or Eggplant:

  • 6 Mexican grey zucchini 6 to 7 inches long and at least 1½ inches wide
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt

Instructions
 

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

  • For this recipe, you'll need an apple corer, the type that removes the core only but does not slice the apple; the small end of a melon baller or a long-handled bar spoon is also helpful. We like ground lamb here, but you can substitute 90 percent lean ground beef, if preferred. Select zucchini that are similarly sized to ensure even cooking, and to make them easier to core, choose the straightest ones you can find. Use fresh, in-season tomatoes for the best flavor. For a refreshing accompaniment, reserve the zucchini cores and trimmings (but not the stems) to make Zucchini-Cucumber Salad with Pine Nuts and Mint.

HASHWEH (Stuffing):

  • Place rice in fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Place rice in bowl and cover with 2 cups hot water; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain rice in now-empty strainer and return to bowl (do not wash strainer). Add lamb, 1 tablespoon oil, salt, pepper, and cinnamon and mix until rice is well dispersed. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add lamb mixture to skillet (do not wash bowl) and, using heat-resistant spatula, mash to thin layer. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up meat with side of spatula, until meat is almost cooked through but still slightly pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer mixture to now-empty strainer set over bowl. Return juices and fat to skillet. Transfer lamb mixture to now-empty bowl and, using fork, break up mixture until meat is reduced to pieces no larger than ¼ inch.

SAUCE:

  • Add oil to juices and fat in skillet and heat over medium-low heat until sizzling. Stir in pepper and cinnamon and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and light golden, 7 to 9 minutes.
  • Transfer onion mixture to food processor. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, and salt to processor and process until smooth, 1½ to 2 minutes. Transfer tomato mixture to now-empty skillet. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and heat-resistant spatula dragged across bottom of skillet leaves trail, 25 to 30 minutes. While sauce cooks, prepare zucchini.

ZUCCHINI:

  • Remove stem end of 1 zucchini and discard. Holding zucchini with your hand, insert apple corer into stemmed end and press and turn until cutting end of corer is about ½ inch from bottom of zucchini (or as far as corer will go), being careful not to damage walls of zucchini. (If stemmed end is too narrow to accommodate corer without damaging walls, remove additional inch of stemmed end.) Remove corer. Using melon baller or long-handled bar spoon, scoop out any remaining core in pieces until farthest part of hollow is ½ inch from bottom of zucchini. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Rinse hollows and drain zucchini on dish towel.
  • Hold 1 zucchini stemmed side up on counter. Using your hand or small spoon, drop small portions of stuffing into hollow, tapping bottom of zucchini lightly on counter to help stuffing settle, until stuffing is ½ inch from top of zucchini. Do not compact stuffing. Repeat with remaining zucchini and stuffing.
  • Remove sauce from heat. Gently arrange stuffed zucchini in single layer in skillet. Return skillet to medium-high heat and bring to boil. Adjust heat to maintain low simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes (small wisps of steam should escape from beneath skillet lid, but sauce should not boil). Turn zucchini over gently. Cover and continue to simmer until rice and meat are fully cooked and zucchini are tender but not mushy, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Drizzle zucchini and sauce with oil; sprinkle with parsley; and serve, passing yogurt separately.

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