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In this Traditional Lebanese dish, kousa is stuffed with a savory meat and rice mixture and simmered in a flavorful tomato broth until tender. Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash is a true family favorite!
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’s 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.
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.
What is Kousa?
Kousa is an Arabic word for zucchini. It’s also known as Lebanese squash and is a type of summer squash that you will find in the market next to the more traditional yellow summer squash and zucchini.
Kousa 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.
Preparing the Squash
While this meal might not come together in 30 minutes, trust me, it’s worth the extra time! The process is fairly simple. You start out by coring the kousa, stuffing them with the meat and rice mixture, and simmering them in the tomato broth until they’re perfectly tender. I love to serve them in a bowl with plain yogurt on the side. Once you try my Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash, you’ll understand why it’s a family favorite!
If you love this dish, I highly recommend you try some of my other Lebanese cuisine:
- Lebanese Laban Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
- Stuffed Bell Peppers with Lebanese Spices
- Lebanese Meat Stuffed Grape Leaves
Frequently asked questions:
How do you freeze and reheat kousa?
This recipe is freezer friendly, but before freezing you need to fully cook the kousa. The kousa should last for up to three months in the freezer in an air-tight container. To reheat, simply place them in the refrigerator for 24 hours to thaw and then warm them in a pan.
Where do you find kousa squash?
It’s usually available at your local farmers market. I normally find it next to yellow squash and zucchini.
Is there a vegetarian option for Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash?
For a vegetarian version of kousa, try stuffing with a combination of chickpeas (partially mashed), bulger and shredded carrots.
Can I substitute zucchini in lieu of kousa squash?
I wouldn’t recommend substituting zucchini for this dish as it’s going to fall apart before the rice is fully cooked. Yellow summer squash is closer to kousa than zucchini. You could use that as an alternative.
Is there a low carb option for Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash?
Yes! You could use riced cauliflower in lieu of the rice. Since the cauliflower won’t expand, you can stuff the kousa closer to the top.
Your fork is waiting.
Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash
- 8 kousas (small/medium sized)
- 20 ounces tomato juice (or tomato paste mixed with water)
- 1 pound ground sirloin
- ½ cup uncooked long grain white rice (rinsed)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ 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 tablespoon) 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 on medium high until boiling.
- While the tomato juice is heating up, begin stuffing the kousa. Be careful to leave about 1 1/2 inch at the top which allows room for them to expand. If you have leftover meat mixture, simply roll them into little meatballs, and add to the tomato broth.
- When the tomato juice has come to a boil, add the remaining mint (1 tablespoon) and garlic (3 grated 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.
Want more healthy recipes? Head over to Pinterest!