Growing up with an American Lebanese mother one could say I developed a love of eating at a young age. It sounds strange to say it had a life-forming impact, but it truly did. What is deemed important in life mainly includes cooking for family (and friends!), family, and socializing that revolves around eating. Because we’re a strange bunch we joke that it’s called Kousa Mousa. I really have no idea how to spell it, so I’m open to corrections on that one. I’ve seen it all ways.
On my mystery birthday trip to Nashville, I found Lebanese squash at the Farmer’s Market!! I know, I know what’s the big deal…well it’s extremely difficult to find and it maintains its texture slightly better than what we usually use. Needless to say, I bought some for a Kousa extravaganza.
There’s only two of us, so I made four, but you can easily expand this recipe. The amounts below are completely approximated – suit it to your tastes. Also, don’t be immediately turned off by the tomato if you don’t like fresh tomatoes, because I don’t at all, and I love this!
Also, I apologize in advance as this is a terrible picture, but as with most of our dinners I am so excited to sit down to eat that I forget to take a picture. I really do cook more than just sweets, but I’m trying to get better about remembering to take a picture. In this case, we luckily had one left over; that is, until I ate it.
- 4 Lebanese squash, yellow squash, or whatever you want to stuff (Use squash with larger bottoms, you want to be able to fit some filling in there!)
- ~1 lb. of ground beef (Some people use lamb)
- ~ 1/2 cup of rice (Essentially you want it to visually look like almost equal parts of meat to rice)
- 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2-3 tsp. of cinnamon (I cover the top of my meat prior to mixing)
- tomato juice (I use the the large cans they sell in the juice section; I believe they’re 46 oz.)
Wash squash and cut off the top down to the point at which its wide enough for you to start filling the squash. Also cut off the very, very end, you just want to cut off that inedible part without cutting a hole in the bottom. I just trim it off. Using a squash/zucchini corer, carefully core out the middle until you’re left with a ~1/2″ edge, any closer and you’ll probably poke through the squash. If you happen to do so, just push back together with a toothpick while cooking and make sure to remove the toothpick before eating!
Mix together the meat, rice, salt, pepper, and cinnamon until its evenly combined. Then fill the squash with the mixture, filling to the top of the squash but do not pack the filling tightly otherwise it will not cook evenly. Place the filled squash in a large pot and cover with tomato juice. Turn the pot on medium-high to high heat to bring up to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to just above medium for 10 minutes. Cover the pot to speed cooking and prevent tomato juice from splashing everywhere! Then reduce to medium-low for another 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the squash you’re using. The only real way to tell is to take one out, cut it half horizontally and if it’s not done I gently put both pieces back in to cook longer. Once done, remove from the heat and serve while hot!
I enjoy cutting mine open and ladling the juice across to enjoy, but some people prefer it without.