Rediscovering Palestinian Cuisine

Kousa Mahshi: Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Kousa Mahshi: Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Eaten widely throughout the Levant, Egypt, and even the Balkans, mahshi is ideal for vegetarians if you choose to omit the lamb from the rice stuffing (called hashweh). In this recipe we stuff zucchini or, courgettes, but Palestinians like to stuff everything–eggplants, bell peppers, grape leave–the possibilities are endless. The best zucchini to use are the small, striated, and light green variety. If you can’t find those (and we couldn’t), regular zucchini works fine. You will need a long vegetable corer, called a manakra, but in a pinch a narrow, long, paring knife will do the trick. If using a knife, be careful not to perforate the interior of the zucchini.

Ingredients:
5 lbs (or 10-15) zucchini (courgettes)
One 16 oz (1lb) can of tomato sauce or whole, peeled tomatoes (our favorites here and here).
4 cups water or broth
1 teaspoon Baharat spice mix

Hashweh stuffing:
2 cups Basmati rice
Olive oil
1 -2 tablespoons Baharat spice mix
1 tablespoon salt
1lb ground or minced lamb or beef

Instructions:
1. Wash and clean the outside of each zucchini, then cut off the tops. Use either the corer or a knife to hollow out the inside of the squash until the interior walls of the zucchini are about 1/8 inch thick. Set them aside in a pan. You can set aside the cored zucchini flesh for use in an omelette, pasta, or zucchini bread!
2. Now, prepare the hashweh by mixing together the rice, spice mix, salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Add the ground lamb or beef and then mix well.
3. Stuff the zucchini until they are about 3/4 full with the rice mixture. You want the zucchini to be stuffed but not tightly packed or they will burst during cooking and the rice will be crunchy.
4. Place the stuffed zucchini in a large pot or pan, and pour over the tomato sauce, water or broth, spice mix, and salt. Bring them to a boil for 5 – 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer them for about 1 1/2 hours. The skin should be tender and easily pierced by the tongs of a fork or knife.
5. Add fried garlic and mint to serve.

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