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Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini also known as Kousa Mahshi is a one of my favorite Lebanese comfort foods. In this dish, zucchini is cored and stuffed with a perfect spiced ground beef and rice mixture, then simmered with a rich tomato sauce which gives it tons of flavor.
Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini- Kousa
Lebanese Stuffed zucchini is a classic dish that never goes out of style. Stuffed zucchini recipes are a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Here are a few other popular Lebanese zucchini recipes on the blog: Vegetarian Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini and Kousa bil Laban- Stuffed Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce. After hallowing the zucchini, save the flesh and make Lebanese Fritters. And if you have any zucchini left, Make this Lebanese Zucchini Stew- Mnazaleh.
What is Lebanese Zucchini?
Lebanese Zucchini or Lebanese squash, also known as Kousa, koosa, cousa, kusa in Arabic is a light green, small and wide Middle Eastern squash. You often find it at farmers’ markets in summer time, or at Middle Eastern grocery stores all year round. I love adding Kousa to my soups and stir fry dishes.
If you can’t find kousa, you can use summer zucchinis. You might need to cut summer zucchini in half before stuffing, to make coring easier; as summer zucchini tends to be longer in shape than Arab kousa.
What you Need to Make Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini- Kousa Mahshi Recipe:
(Full recipe with exact measurements at end of this post)
Lebanese zucchinis- Kousa
Tomato paste/tomato sauce
Medium grain rice
Lean ground beef
Middle Eastern Spices
How to Make Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini- Kousa Mahshi:
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.
Make the Stuffing:
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the stuffing ingredients of rice, ground beef, butter, fresh blended tomatoes, spices and salt until fully combined (I do this by hand).
Stuff the zucchini:
Using your hands stuff the zucchini with the beef mixture, leaving half of an inch free at the top to allow the filling to expand. Repeat for the rest of the hollowed zucchinis.
Cook the Zucchini:
Arrange the stuffed zucchinis in a large pot, add water, just enough to slightly cover the zucchinis. Cover the pot, place on medium-high heat, and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium- low, cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and the rice stuffing is fully cooked.
To serve Kousa Mahshi:
Transfer zucchinis to a serving platter and top with tomato sauce. Enjoy with pita bread and a side salad.
Variations to Making Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini- Lebanese Stuffed Squash:
There are several variations of Kousa Mahshi, depending on your region in the Middle-East the recipe ingredient varies, but the concept is the same.
- In tomato base – like the one in this recipe stuffed with ground beef and rice mixture.
- In yoghurt – traditionally made with beef or lamb mince. This variety is called Kousa Bil Laban. Here is the recipe for Kousa bil Laban- Stuffed Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce.
- Vegetarian: Stuffed with a tangy Tabouli and rice mixture, here is the recipe: Vegetarian Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini.
Tips for Making Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini:
- Allow the zucchinis to come to room temperature before coring, this will make the zucchinis less fragile and less prone to damage while coring.
- Reserve the zucchini flesh for other recipes, such as omelets or frittatas.
- If Lebanese zucchini is not available near you, you can use dark green zucchinis. You will have to cut each zucchini in half and hollow each side out.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Kousa Mahshi- Stuffed Kousa?
Mahshi translates to stuffed and Kousa is the zucchini, so it literally translates to stuffed zucchini in Arabic. Kousa 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 , stews and stir fries.
Can you make Vegetarian Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini?
Yes! The Vegetarian stuffed Kousa is made with short grain rice, parsley, tomatoes and onions. Here is the full recipe: Vegetarian Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini.
Can kousa be frozen?
Kousa mahshi is one of those dishes that tastes even better the second day, so don’t be afraid to make a large batch and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. You could even freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.
What to Serve with Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini:
In my house, we always serve it with pita bread, but I know many also enjoy it with some plain yogurt on the side.