The flavors and smells that came from my grandmother’s kitchen are still so deeply etched in my heart and senses. I especially miss her Koosa or stuffed squash
Green Zucchini, 18 small or 12 medium, long or 8-10, round
½ lb. ground lamb
½ cup pine nuts
1Tablespoons of Ghee, separated into 1/2 T (ghee is clarified butter)
2 teaspoon salt, plus extra
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra
1 Tablespoon dried mind
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 medium onions, 1 finely diced and 1 quartered
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved (green sprout removed)
To stuff squash, or koosa it first has to be hollowed out. This can be done using a special tool (typically called a zucchini corer). These long metal corers can be found in Middle Eastern markets very cheaply, or online.
Cut the top of the squash off (the stem end that was connected to the plant). If your squash is bent at the neck, cut below the bend. You can save any edible portion of the bent pieces; slice them up and sauté them in olive oil on high heat with a little salt and enjoy as a snack.
Be careful hollowing the squash, not to puncture through it. Leave a ¼ inch rim of squash.
Insert the corer in, ¾ of the length of the squash and twist. Pull out the core. Do this a few times, scraping against the edge of the squash with gentle pressure until you’ve hollowed it out. If you do puncture a squash, don’t throw it away just save that one for yourself. Once all the squash is cored set aside.
If using round zucchini instead of long, trim the top of the stem slightly and then neatly cut the top off to create a lid and set aside. Hold the zucchini firmly in one hand, using a teaspoon begin to remove the inner flesh until you have hollowed out the inside completely to create a bowl. The zucchini removed from the inside can also be sauteed and enjoyed as a snack.
Heat 1/2 T of Ghee in a pan and lightly toast pine nuts, remove and set aside.
Using the same pan, saute the finely diced onion, in remaining 1/2 T of Ghee until soft.
Mix the onion, pine nuts, salt, pepper, cinnamon and ground lamb.
Loosely fill each squash with the stuffing. If you have leftover stuffing form it into meatballs to be cooked with the koosa.
In a bowl, season the crushed tomato with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of dried mint. Place the koosa (stuffed end up and tilted in a tall pot with the meatballs, garlic cloves and onion quarters interspersed. Pour the tomatoes over all to just cover some may stick out a bit above the liquid. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender and the meat is cooked through, about 50 minutes.
Serve hot with a side of yogurt and a simple arugula salad.
The flavors are pure heaven. The cinnamon adds a warm, earthy component.