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Kousa bil Laban translates to zucchini with yogurt sauce in Arabic. In this dish, cored zucchini is stuffed with a mixture of perfectly cooked and spiced ground beef and sautéed onions, simmered in a rich garlicy yogurt sauce then topped with toasted pine nuts.
Kousa bil Laban- Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini
Stuffed zucchini recipes are a staple in Lebanese cuisine. Here are a couple other popular stuffed zucchini recipes on the blog: Vegetarian Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini and Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini- Kousa.
What is Kousa?
Kousa translates to zucchini or squash in Arabic. It is also known as Lebanese zucchini- light green in color and small and wide in shape. You often find it at farmer’s market in summer time, or at Middle Eastern grocery stores. I love adding Kousa to my soups , pilafs and stir fries. I prefer to use Lebanese zucchinis, but summer zucchinis will work just fine in this recipe as well.
How to Make Kousa bil Laban:
Core the zucchini:
- Wash and dry the zucchinis, cut off the stalks and slice off the dried tips at the opposite end without removing too much skin.
- Carefully hollow out the zucchini. Start from the stalk end by inserting your corer about 3/4 of the way into the zucchini, making sure not to poke the bottoms or the tender skin of the zucchinis as you hollow. Twist the corer and pull out the zucchini flesh. Do this a few times, until you have a generous cavity. Some have found success using an apple corer to hollow out their zucchinis, I personally prefer the old fashioned way using a regular corer. You can also use an electric veggie corer drill.
Cook the Cored Zucchinis:
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the the cored zucchinis and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until zucchinis are cooked through. Transfer to a colander to drain and cool down. Save about 2 cups of the zucchini broth, to use later when making the yogurt sauce.
Prepare the Stuffing Mixture:
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the chopped onions and salt- cook until wilted stirring frequently (around 10 mins).
- Add ground beef and spices and mix with the cooked onion- constantly stir to break up the clumps of meat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until meat is cooked through.
Prepare Pine Nuts:
In a medium size pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add the pine nuts and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently; set aside.
Stuff the Zucchinis:
Using your hands or a small spoon stuff the zucchini with the cooked beef mixture, all the way to the top. Repeat for the rest of the hollowed zucchinis. Set aside.
Prepare the Yogurt Sauce:
- In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, begin to warm the yogurt.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch with the reserved zucchini broth, add crushed garlic and salt. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the warmed yogurt. Whisking continuously to avoid the yogurt sauce from curdling. Bring to a boil, lower heat to low.
- Add the the stuffed zucchinis into the yogurt sauce and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving plate, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts if you’d like.
Tips for Making the Best Kousa bil laban Recipe:
- Reserve some of the zucchini broth to use it in the garlicy yogurt sauce, for extra flavor.
- Let the cornstarch completely dissolve with the zucchini broth, before adding it to the yogurt.
- When making the yogurt sauce, whisk the mixture continuously, until you bring it to a boil. This will help the mixture thicken without curdling.
- Sprinkle some dried mint before serving, if you have any.
How to Store Kousa bil Laban:
Store in an airtight container, it keeps well for up to 4 days in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on stove top for a few minutes. You might need to add a sprinkle of water before reheating, if the yogurt sauce thickened too much in the fridge.