The meat and rice mixture is flavored with garlic and dried mint to give it tons of added flavor.
Recently I learned that the average bag of carrots found in your local grocery store has been in storage for up to 6 months. Awesome. Fortunately, it is August and there is no need to purchase 6-month-old produce. Late Summer is one of my favorite times of the year for that very simple reason: the Farmer’s Market is finally overflowing with juicy, ripe produce from every color of the rainbow. It is a short season here in Michigan so you better believe I try to make the most of it.
What is Kusa?
It’s an Arabic word for zucchini. It’s also known as Lebanese squash.
Of course, I am a bit partial to the heirloom tomatoes and precious hand-picked berries, but there are several other hidden gems that are a lot more budget-friendly. Today I’m going to introduce you to the world of kousa. Kousa is a type of summer squash that you will find in the market next to the more traditional yellow summer squash and zucchini.
Kusa squash is light green and a bit more plump than the others. I love slicing it thin and grilling it with a little olive oil and lemon (go figure.) It also tastes great in soups and stir-fries. The season is only a few weeks long, so give it a shot because before you know it you’ll be back to eating zucchini the rest of the year. I’ll spare you the speech about where your zucchini comes from in the middle of January. ;)
Speaking of Winter, today’s comforting dish of stuffed kousa is a family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. Since kousa is only available for a short period of time, my Aunt Paula will cook up a huge batch of it in the Summer and freeze it to be enjoyed during the holidays and other winter months.
If I’m lucky enough, right around January/February her freezer will be too full and she’ll throw an impromptu kousa party. Happy day, happy day.
Freezing and reheating koosa:
This recipe is freezer friendly but before freezing you need to fully cook the kusa. I freeze it in a Tupperware container and reheat it on the stove. To reheat simply place in the refrigerator 24 hours before you wish to eat them so they can thaw slowly. Alternatively, leave on the counter and they should thaw in 4 hours or so. To reheat, place in a pan and warm. :)
Sourcing koosa squash:
Yellow summer squash is closer to koosa than zucchini. Try using that if you can’t find koosa. Don’t use zucchini as a substitute. Most likely it will fall apart when the rice is cooked inside.
For a vegetarian version of kousa try stuffing with combo of chickpeas..partially mashed, bulger and shredded carrots.
Your fork is waiting.
Lebanese Stuffed Kusa Squash
- 8 kousas small/medium sized
- 20 ounces tomato juice or tomato paste mixed with water
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 6 cloves garlic grated
- 2 tablespoon dried mint
- 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Plain yogurt to serve
- To hollow out the kousa, trim off the top and use a zucchini core to slowly remove the inside of the squash. Be careful not to poke through the bottom or the sides. Once the squash is hallowed out, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine beef, rinsed uncooked rice, salt, and pepper. Add half of the garlic (3 grated cloves) and half of the mint (1 tbs) to the meat mixture and combine.
- Before you start stuffing the squash, place the tomato juice or tomato paste/water mixture in a large pot and heat in medium high until boiling.
- While tomato juice is heating up, begin stuffing the kousa, careful to leave about 1 1/2 in at the top which leaves room for them to expand. If you have leftover meat mixture, simply roll them into little meatballs and add to the tomato broth.
- When tomato juice has come to a boil, add the remaining mint and garlic (1/2 tbs and 3 cloves) as well as the lemon juice.
- If you used tomato paste/water, add salt and pepper to the broth to taste.
- Gently add in the stuffed kousa. Bring to a boil then turn to low and simmer for 35 minutes. The meatballs are the perfect way to see if the rice is fully cooked.
- Serve in a bowl with plain yogurt on the side.
Do you cook the Kusa fully before freezing?Yes!
Do you need to cover the pot when you’re simmering the tomato paste mixture with the kusa in the pot?Yes!
Is this recipe freezer friendly?Yes.
How should I reheat Kusa after it's been frozen?To reheat simply place in the refrigerator 24 hours before you wish to eat them so they can thaw slowly. Alternatively, leave on counter and they should thaw in 4 hours or so. To reheat, place in a pan and warm.
Where can I buy Kusa Squash?Go to a Mexican or farmers market if you have one. They usually will have but depending on the time of year they may be difficult to find.
Can I substitute zucchini in lieu of Kusa squash?I wouldn’t recommend substituting zucchini for this dish as it’s going to fall apart before the rice is fully cooked.
For more great recipes, check out my Pinterest board!