A long time ago, I had a girlfriend from a [highly disfunctional] Lebanese family. The only good thing I got from the relationship was the ability to cook Lebanese food. It's late summer and the kousa -- Lebanese summer squash, not unlike zucchini -- is in. Time for Kousa al Mashi
I'm using some Italian zucchini here, since it looked better than the kousa at the farmer's market:
Kousa al Makshi by Handforged, on Flickr
Kousa al Mashi
[while you're preparing this, remember the Prime Directive of Lebanese cooking: there is no such thing as too much garlic, too much lemon or too much mint.]
- Kousa. Or substitute italian zucchini.
- ground/mince lamb
- tomato puree
- dried spearmint
- short-grain rice
1. Take your ground/mince lamb. Mix it up with your hands in a bowl, incorporating some tomato juice or pureed tomato, uncooked rice (about 1:4 rice:meat), add in a little salt, a little pepper; and some cinnamon and if you like, a littlel cardamom. When your done, the mixture should be light and fluffy.
2. Cut the stem end off the kousa and core them out. The best tool for this is a squash corer like this one, but a grapefruit spoon works pretty good. The walls of the kousa should be 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick. Save the cored-out stuff for making fritters.
3. Stuff the cored-out kousa with the meat mixture. Make sure you don't leave any air pockets.
4. Lay your kousa in a baking dish.
5. Make a thin tomato sauce of pureed tomatoes, some lemon juice and if you'd like some finely minced garlic. Pour it over/around the kousa in the dish, so it comes up 1/2 to 3/4 up the side of the kousa, adding salt/pepper to taste.
6. Pop it into a 350 deg F oven for 45 minutes or so. The [i]kousa should be tender; the interior temperature of the stuffing should be c. 150 deg F or so.
7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with lemon juice and a healthy covering of dried spearmint. If you'd like garnish with some fresh flat-leafed parsley.
Serve it up with pita bread and mint tea.