This Kousa mahshi recipe is authentic and made with a tomato broth base, spiced vegetables & rice filling which is stuffed in zucchini (gray squash). It's the perfect comfort food.
Kousa is one of the recipes that I can taste instantly upon hearing the word. As a child I loved eating kousa, it's warm, hearty and so good for seconds.
There are several variations of Kousa Mahshi:
- In tomato base - can be soupy or a thick covering. Made with either beef or lamb mince or vegetables.
- In yoghurt - traditionally made with beef or lamb mince. This variety is called Kousa Bil Laban.
- Depending on your region in the Middle-East the recipe ingredient varies, but the concept is the same.
This recipe for Kousa is with tomato sauce - a version using a vegetable rice stuffing in a tomato base (not ketchup). This Stuffed Zucchini recipe is ideal for vegans.
Is kousa mahshi healthy? Yes! This recipe uses mostly fresh ingredients (whole foods) and spices. It does contain rice as a main component, so generally 2-3 small-medium sized zucchinis per serving is recommended.
How to make kousa mahshi (Lebanese stuffed zucchini)
- Lebanese zucchini / gray squash
- Tomato paste
- For the stuffing;
- Long-grain rice
- Pine nuts
- All spice
- Ground black pepper
- Plant based butter
- Olive oil
Wash and dry zucchini as normal. Using a paring knife, slice off the ends (take off as little as possible) do not pierce zucchini skins. Click here to view a quick 30sec video how to core a zucchini .
Preparing the Stuffing
Brown onion in plant based spread and olive oil, set aside.
Finely dice onion, tomato, parsely and place in a large mixing bowl. Add rice, pine nuts and all spices (All spice, salt, black pepper) and mix well together.
Using your hands, scoop little amounts of the stuffing and place inside each zucchini. Leave approx 1cm from the opening to allow rice to expand whilst cooking.
Place your stuffed zucchini carefully into a large pot and submerge with water and add the tomato paste and seasoning.
Bring to the boil over med/high heat and then simmer over low heat for about 1 hour. Kousa Mahshi should be tender once done.
Combining a plant-based butter with olive oil in a pan stops burning and allows an even browning of the pine nuts
Pine nuts can be swapped out for almonds
Keep the zucchini/gray squash flesh for this recipe: Zucchini Flesh Recipe (Lib El Kousa)
Fleshing out zucchini isn't the fastest task, but it is easy. You can view a quick video here "how to core zucchini"
💡Leftover zucchini stuffing
Use left over rice stuffing to stuff tomatoes. Simply core out the tomato flesh and stuff it with the filling. Cook the tomatoes with the zucchini in the same pot.
Lebanese Stuffed zucchini (gray squash), is called Kousa Mahshi. 'This is a classic Lebanese meal that has been adapted to suit a vegan diet.
'Kousa' - pronounced 'koo-sa' translates to 'zucchini'. And the word Mahshi is the Arabic word for 'stuffing' pronounced 'Mahh-she'.
Kousa mahshi is great as leftovers, so don't be afraid to make a large batch and keep in the fridge for a few days. You could even freeze them in a snap lock container or bag for up to 3 months.
Kousa is normally found at your local grocer. If you are in Australia ask for 'Lebanese Zucchini' if you are in America ask for 'Gray Squash'. If you can't find this variety try using Yellow or Green Squash/Zucchini.
📋OTHER VEGAN LEBANESE RECIPES
- Stuffed silverbeet leaves (chard leaves) in a lemony broth
- A simple dish with buttery blacked eyed beans and lemony greens - Lebanese Black Eyed Beans Recipe Vegan
- An easy tangy light pastry called Purslane Pockets Lebanese Bakleh
- My family's favourite rice, I can never get enough of this - Lebanese Rice Vegan
- If you like to cook fresh beans, try my Foul Akhdar Bi Zeit, which is green broad beans in olive oil.
- For a sweet treat that's light, Lebanese rice pudding Riz Bi Haleeb is a wonderful floral citrusy flavour.
- A big on flavour side salad (or as I like it, for brekky on toast) a fresh oregano salad is perfect.
Kousa Mahshi aka Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini Recipe
- 12 Lebanese zucchini (pick ones without a curve - easier to core)
- 140 grams Tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon seasoning to taste
Zucchini Stuffing Ingredients
- In a small fry pan, heat plant based butter and olive oil and brown pine nuts, set aside.
- Thoroughly combine the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl including pine nuts.
- Clean each zucchini by removing stalks and dried bottom. Be careful with the bottom end - do not remove any flesh.
- Using a kitchen tool called a manakra (it's a corer), begin to hollow out each zucchini. Do this by inserting the manakra straight and not on an angle to avoid piercing the skin and rotating the manakra. Fingers of flesh will begin to be removed. The opening of each zucchini should be adequate enough to fill with stuffing. Reserve flesh for other dishes (which will be shared next). Click on the video down the bottom to see how this zucchini hollowing step is done.
- Stuff each zucchini with the prepped stuffing, leave 1cm from the top to allow filling to expand during cooking. N.B., its' best to stuff the zucchinis over the stuffing bowl to allow for excess to fall back into the bowl. To help stuffing settle to the bottom, gently tap them every now and then.
- If you have any left over stuffing, try stuffing a tomato and cooking it with the dish.
- In a large pot, place your stuffed zucchini (and stuffed left overs) submerge with water and add the tomato paste and seasoning. Bring to the boil over med/high heat and then simmer over low heat for about 1 hour.
- Zucchini's should be tender and rice should be cooked (it should've expanded)
- I just love eating the kousa Mashi (Lebanese stuffed Zucchini's) and the soup, so tasty, hope you enjoy!