Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time50 minutes

Kousa is stuffed with a savory meat and rice mixture and simmered in a flavorful tomato broth until tender in this flavorful Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash.

Lebanese stuffed kousa squash.

Late summer is one of my favorite times of the year for one very simple reason: the farmers market is finally overflowing with juicy, ripe produce from every color of the rainbow. One of my favorite things to buy is kousa, also known as Lebanese squash, which is a summer squash that you can find right by the zucchini. While I enjoy kousa (or koosa and cousa) many ways, today I’m sharing my Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash recipe which you’re sure to love.

Ingredients

  • Kousa: Arabic for zucchini, it’s a summer squash with a light green rind that is mildly sweet and nutty in flavor.
  • Tomato juice: Slightly sweet and tart flavor that both cooks the squash and creates a delicious sauce.
  • Ground beef: I like to use sirloin, but you could also use ground chuck or even ground lamb.
  • Long grain rice: Soaks up the juice and surrounding flavor as it cooks and adds texture to the filling.
  • Garlic: A staple in my kitchen, it has a sweet, nutty, slightly buttery taste when cooked.
  • Dried mint: Sweet and woodsy, it adds a different depth of flavor than fresh mint would.
  • Lemon juice: Bright, acidic flavor that creates balance to the dish.

How to Make Lebanese stuffed Kousa Squash

Ground beef in a bowl

Start your Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash by creating the stuffing by putting your ground beef in a large bowl.

Freshly grating garlic into bowl

Then add the uncooked rice, and freshly grate half of the garlic cloves with a microplane.

Seasoning rice and beef

Finish with half of the dried mint and season with some kosher salt and black pepper.

Mixing meat mixture by hand

The best way to combine the meat mixture is with your hands, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

Cutting off ends of kousa squash

To prepare your squash for stuffing, start by washing and drying them, then cutting off all the tops.

Liz cleaning out kousa squash

Then hollow out the insides by using a zucchini corer, being careful that you don’t puncture the bottom or sides. Alternatively, a nice hack to remove the center of the squash is to use an apple corer.

Stuffing kousa squash

Next take the meat and rice stuffing and push it into the squash, leaving about 1 & 1/2 inches of space at the top for the rice to cook and expand.

Adding tomato juice to large pot

Then in a large pot over medium-high heat, pour in the tomato juice.

Grating garlic into largepot

Then grate in the rest of the garlic.

Adding mint to pot

And add in the rest of the dried mint.

Stuffed kousa in tomato juice in pot

Once tomato juice is boiling, gently add in the stuffed kousa squash as well as the lemon juice.

Extra meat added as meat balls

You can also add any leftover meat stuffing to the pot as little meatballs. Once everything is added to the pot, bring back to a boil before reducing heat and simmering for about 35 minutes.

Cutting Lebanese stuffed kousa squash.

Once rice is fully cooked (the meatballs are a great way to test this), remove from the pot along with some of the tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs (like parsley) or spices, and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you freeze 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. You can also find it at some grocery stores.

How do you core a squash without a corer?

You can try a small, thin knife, a grapefruit spoon, or a potato peeler (the long, scoop, skinny kind).

Lebanese stuffed kousa squash

More Lebanese Recipes

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Liz eating Lebanese stuffed kousa squash.

Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash has always been a favorite of mine, and once you give it a try, I hope it’ll become a favorite of yours as well.

Your fork is waiting.

Lebanese stuffed kousa squash 2

Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash

4.58 stars average
In this Traditional Lebanese dish, kousa is stuffed with a savory meat and rice mixture and simmered in a flavorful tomato broth until tender.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 35 minutes
TOTAL: 50 minutes
Servings4

Recipe Video

Ingredients
 

  • 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 (optional)

Instructions
 

  • 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 hollowed 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. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1squashCalories: 429kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 29gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 706mgPotassium: 1742mgFiber: 5gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 1506IUVitamin C: 98mgCalcium: 120mgIron: 5mg

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85 responses to “Lebanese Stuffed Kousa Squash”

  1. ScratchCook Avatar
    ScratchCook

    Syrian mother, learned to cook from her. Her family emigrated from Damascus in 1905, I traced journey with Census Data and Ancestry.com. Even fit photo of the ship and their names on its Manifest on which they travelled to Ellis Island.

    That being said my stuffed meat mixture always includes Cinnamon, Allspice and Nutmeg. Toasted pine nuts an option. I stuff all Cousa then with extra mixture I stuff one or more of the following – Onions, Plum Tomatoes or Green Peppers. I mix plain tomato sauce with Fresh Mint (in season) or Dried Mint in winter, rub between palms to open up flavor. Add 3-5 whole peeled cloves of garlic. Poor over stuffed Cousa, etc. Bring to slow, low bubbling simmer, cook for 30-35 minutes.

  2. Sherri Monsour-Miller Avatar
    Sherri Monsour-Miller

    You sent me these Lebanese recipes and being of Lebanese decent I naturally clicked on a few of your recipes to see if there are the way my mother taught me to cook. I can say…they are not. My mother used Allspice in the stuffing for her peppers and coosa, and cabbage. I can’t believe the taste would be fine without it. I use 1 heaping teaspoon of Allspice to 1 lb of meat. Recently, I have reduced the rice to less than 1/2 cup because I’m trying to cut down on grains. And it works out fine. You don’t need 1/2 cup of rice to 1 lb. meat. I use about 1/4 cup of rice. You won’t miss it and it still is enough for your palate. Now, I like the use of Mint. I put fresh mint on top before I cover it to cook. I think I will also add it to the ingredients the next time I make any stuffed dishes. But we do NOT add Allspice to stuffed grape leaves. They are just lemon/salt/pepper with the meat/rice stuffing. and Lemon water to cook in. Yum…delicious. I put extra grape leaves in my freezer and I was able to have them in the winter. I do not like bottled leaves.
    Thank you

    1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
      Liz DellaCroce

      Thanks for sharing how your family made things! That’s the great thing about family recipes, they have similarities from the region, but different families have their own twist!

    2. Merridith Avatar
      Merridith

      I’m Lebanese too and I think which part of Lebanon your family is from dictates how you cook your food as well as spices added. My family is from the mountains above Beirut and pretty much put allspice and mint in almost every stuffed recipe. Grape leaves, koosa, cabbage all have allspice and mint in them. Lemon is added to the water or sliced lemon between layers in a pot. Point is this: ALL taste yummy no matter how you cook it as long as you follow Sito’s recipe! ❤

      1. Liz DellaCroce Avatar
        Liz DellaCroce

        That sounds INCREDIBLE!! I also have family from Damascus, Syria. You’re absolutely right – love hearing how you make yours!!

        1. Merridith Avatar
          Merridith

          Oh! Can’t forget one ingredient! Garlic! It’s in almost everything! Lol

Liz Della Croce eating black bean dip

Hi I’m Liz!

Hey there, I’m Liz Della Croce and I’m thrilled to have you here! My aim is to motivate and ignite your passion for cooking amazing meals for your loved ones.