One of my favorite memories of my Taita’s cooking (Taita means Grandma in Lebanon) was Kousa. Kousa is squash stuffed with lamb and rice. If you read our grape leaves post you might be sensing a trend here. Anyway, this is a really tasty dish that is fairly easy to make, except for one step.
1. 1 standard jar of plain tomato sauce (feel free to get saucy with this ingredient though)
2. 1 pound of ground lamb
3. 1/2 cup of rice
4. 10 small zucchinis
5. 3 tablespoons of garlic
6. Salt to taste
The Hard Part
So the part Taita always talks about is scooping out the insides of the zucchini. They make a special tool for this, Eugene’s mom had one. We borrowed it. It was long and thin and allowed you to scoop the insides out without breaking through any of the sides. If you can’t get the exact scooper, a peeler like this will do. Anyway, cut off one end of the zucchini and then hollow it out to make room for the lamb and rice. Keep the other end closed. Taita likes to save the zucchini meat for eggs the next morning. She says it’s delicious. While you mix the lamb, place all the hollowed out zucchinis in a big bowl of garlicy water (2 cups 2 table spoons of garlic. It will soak the goodness into the zucchinis.
Much like the grape leaves, you add about 1/2 cup of rice for every pound of lamb. We also added a tablespoon of garlic to the mix and then mixed it all together. If you like garlic, feel free to add more. Once the lamb and rice is ready, take the zucchinis out of the garlic water and start stuffing in the lamb and rice mixture. Make sure not to stuff it all the way to the top because the rice will expand.
Cooking the Kousa
Once you have all the zucchinis ready, place them in a pot. You can add some zucchini innards if you don’t want the zucchinis to stick to the bottom of the pot. Then, dump the tomato sauce into the pot and fill the rest of the pot up with water. The water should almost cover all the zuchinnis, but not quite. Then cook it on medium/low heat on the stove for about 45 minutes after the water has come to a boil. You’ll probably want to take the top off 10 minutes before you are done to thicken the sauce. Also, be sure to rotate the zucchinis periodically so all sides are covered in water at least part of the time. This will keep it all moist!
Yogurt Cucumber Salad
We also made a yogurt cucumber salad. Slice up Persian cucumbers thinly and mix with yogurt and salt and garlic to taste. Some people like to add mint as well.
Thats it ! As Taita said, “I don’t think you can go wrong with this. No matter what happens it will be edible.” Good call Taita, I’m going to rely on that line a lot when I’m cooking for my friends. If those aren’t words to live by in the kitchen, I don’t know any that are!