Stuffed Marrow Squash (Kousa Mahshi)
Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
2 lbs (1 kg) marrow squash or small zucchini, hollowed out (see below “Hollowing Out Vegetables to Stuff”)
1 batch Lamb and Rice Stufﬁng (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, ﬁnely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced (with their juices)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 chicken or beef-ﬂavored soft bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 lemon, wedged (optional, for serving)
Plain yogurt (optional, for serving)
1. Prepare the Lamb and Rice Stufﬁng.
2. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat; add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
3. Add the tomato, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, bouillon cubes, bay leaves, fresh parsley, dried mint, and enough water to ﬁll the pot so that it is somewhere between 2/3 to ¾ of the way full (about 8 cups/1.75 liters). Heat the tomato broth over low heat until it comes to a simmer.
4. Stuff each marrow squash or zucchini shell with the Lamb & Rice Stufﬁng, packing the mixture down slightly so that when turned upside-down the mixture doesn’t fall out. Leave about ½ to ¾ inch (1.25 to 2 cm) at the top of each because the rice will expand when cooking.
5. Add the stuffed squash to the simmering tomato broth; cover the pot and bring back up to a simmer, then cook until the rice is fully done, about 1 hour. If the squash doesn’t all ﬁt in the pot because there’s too much liquid, you can just ladle out some broth. (To check if the rice is fully cooked, remove a piece of squash and cut it in half.)
6. Serve the squash alongside the tomato broth to eat as soup or to spoon on top, along with fresh lemon to squeeze on top and yogurt, if using.
Lamb and Rice Stuffing
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes
1 cup (215 g) medium-grain white rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, ﬁnely diced
1¼ teaspoons salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle
¾ teaspoon Syrian Spice Mix
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¹/ 8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ lb (250 g) ground lamb or beef
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, Syrian Spice Mix, cumin, ground coriander, and black pepper, and sauté 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Let cool.
3. Use your hands to mix together the drained rice, onion mixture, raw meat, and melted butter in a large bowl.
Hollowing Out Vegetables to Stuff
In Middle Eastern cuisine, just about any vegetable is stuffed. A few favorites are tomatoes, small bell peppers, cabbage, grape leaves, small potatoes, baby eggplants, and marrow squashes. If you can’t ﬁnd marrow squash, zucchini is a good substitute; look for small zucchini, about 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) long that are as straight as possible, which can be cut in half so that each half can be hollowed out.
Cabbage and grape leaves don’t need to be hollowed out; they are simply rolled up tightly with stufﬁng. Tomatoes and bell peppers are easy to hollow out: just cut off the top where the stem is and scoop the insides out. To hollow out potatoes, eggplant, and marrow squash (or zucchini), you will need a vegetable corer. For marrow squash, zucchini, or eggplant, trim off both the stem and blossom ends.
Hold the fruit in one hand and insert a vegetable corer into the center, gently rotating the fruit so it turns around the corer; remove the corer, set the pulp aside, and continue gently scraping the inside of fruit; continue this way until you have a shell about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. For potatoes, choose medium-sized vegetables and peel them before you start coring; core them the same way you would eggplant, zucchini, or marrow squash, but leave the shell about ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick. The insides that are scooped out can be added to soups, made into dips, or omelets.
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.