Cored and stuffed zucchini, filled with herbal spiced rice mixtures and cooked in a garlicky yogurt sauce. A new way to serve zucchini for the whole family to enjoy.
It is hard to please my kids when it come to zucchini. Stuffed Zucchini is one of the recipes that they can eat and in fact enjoy.
I have mastered the art of stuffed zucchini as I've had it many times in my life. Whether it is vegetarian stuffed zucchini or ground beef stuffed.
Kusa bel laban, or stuffed zucchini in yogurt sauce, is a delicious classic Lebanese recipe that I consider a variation to the traditional Mahshi, but oh so good. I've always had mahshi cooked in tomato sauce. This was my first time having it swimming in a poodle of delicious garlicky yogurt sauce.
In Egypt -and I believe all Middle Eastern countries, you can find zucchini cored and cleaned wrapped neatly in packages and ready to be stuffed, aren't women pampered there?!!. Anyways, it is not that hard to core zucchini but it will definitely make life easier if these packages were available here.
The key to all Mahshi kinds, or as my mama told me, is a lot of fresh herbs. Parsley, cilantro, dill and mint. Here it is not easy to find the kind of fresh mint that I like, so I use dried mint. Fresh herbs usually have more flavor than dried ones. If you cannot find fresh herbs at least use fresh parsley and cilantro.
Can I freeze stuffed zucchini?
I've tried several times to freeze cooked zucchini but it did not work. When the zucchini thaw, they become mushy and many times stringy as well. So I do not recommend freezing it at all.
Are big zucchini good eating?
My mom taught me that small zucchinis are always the best. I admit it is hard to core small zucchini so I aim for medium size zucchinis, say something like 10-12 cm.
How do you make stuffed zucchini?
This recipe starts with making the stuffing first. Rice is mixed with onion, loads of fresh herbs and spices. I've added ground meat to the rice as this is how the Lebanese recipe goes, but you can omit depending on your preference. Then zucchinis are partially cooked in water then finish cooking in a garlicky yogurt sauce.
So let's see how to make this with step by step pictures.
- Saute onion in oil then add rice, tomato paste and spices. Stir to combine for a couple of minutes.
- Add minced beef, if using, fresh herbs and stir very well, turn off the heat.
- Core zucchini and peel if you would like to. Now stuff the zucchini with the mixture, do not stuff till the top as rice will cook and expand.
- Arrange the stuffed zucchini to a pot, add water and cook the zucchini for almost 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the yogurt sauce and drop the partially cooked zucchini in the yogurt sauce and continue cooking until completely done.
Serve warm with your favorite meat or for a meatless or vegetarian version you can omit the ground meat and use mushrooms instead.I do not usually add ground meat to Mahshi, but I've learned that authentically in Lebanon they do that, so I followed their tracks.
- Mahshi is the Arabic word for anything stuffed and this mahshi recipe got them all. Delicious vegetables stuffed with fragrant aromatic rice mixture and cooked in tomato sauce.
- Zucchini boats with ground beef is a delicious, hearty, and healthy dinner that can be served over rice or with bread. It's a wonderful low-carb dish the whole family will love!
- This ground beef zucchini casserole is loaded with fresh herbs, saucy, and delicious. It's a great low carb weeknight dinner idea.
- These stuffed grape leaves are delicious and easy to prepare. They're perfect for parties or as an appetizer.
Stuffed Zucchini, in yogurt sauce
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Kusa bel laban, stuffed zucchini in yogurt sauce
- 3 lb zucchini.
- ¼ cup oil.
- 1 large yellow onion , chopped.
- 2 cups uncooked rice.
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste.
- ½ lb ground beef.
- 1 cup parsley , chopped.
- 1 cup cilantro , chopped.
- ½ cup dill weed , chopped.
- 2 Tablespoon dry mint.
- Salt and pepper , to taste.
For the sauce:
- 2 cups yogurt.
- 1 cup water.
- 2 large garlic cloves , minced.
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch , dissolved in 2 Tablespoons water.
- 1 egg , large.
- salt and pepper.
- Wash, peel(if desired) and core zucchini.
- In a deep skillet, on medium heat, add oil and sauce onions until fragrant.
- Add rice and stir for a minute.
- Add tomato paste, stir. Add the spices , fresh herbs and meat, stir for a couple of minutes to combine then turn off heat. Allow to cool down.
- Stuff the zucchini with the rice mixture and arrange in a deep pot.*
- Add seasoned water/broth to the pot to fill it halfway through the zucchini.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat cover for 20-30 minutes, until it is almost done.
- In another pot, add all the sauce ingredient and mix well.
- Transfers the pot to the stove top on medium heat, keep stirring or it will curdle.
- When it starts to boil, carefully drop the zucchini in the sauce, reduce heat and let it finish cooking about 10 more minutes.
- Serve warm and Enjoy!!
I am worried about putting the stuffed zucchini in boiling water. Wont the filling get soggy or fall out?
I made it without boiling and I baked it in the oven for 2 hours. But in hindsight, I should have followed the instructions!
Is there a way to boil the EMPTY zucchinis BEFORE filling them?
Not that I know of, anyways the stuffing did not fall off though.
Hello! I'm curious about the egg used in the sauce. Is it used to give the sauce a custardy thickness? What would the sauce be like with the egg omitted? Thank you!
Thickness and richness a little bit of both worlds. My guess is without it, it would be much like zucchini in tzatziki sauce without the cucumber of course. I hope this helps.
I am looking forward to trying this recipe, but do not have fresh spices. Could I use dried spices and what would be the measurements for dill, cilantro, and parsley? also I have kousa squash instead of zucchini. Would that be an ok substitution?
Cynthia, although I do not like using dried herbs in this recipe, but in the situation we are in you have to do with what you have right? the common ratio is one tablespoon of fresh herbs to one teaspoon of dried herbs, in other words, 3:1 for a fresh to dried ration. And yes you can use kousa, I use any of them whatever is available or in sale. Let me know if you need anything else.
About this recipe, I would skip it but do you have any other zucchini recipes to try?. Thanks.
And congratulations to your son for his 6th grade starting soon.
Mine turned bitter... I mean kusa... Y?
Faseela, unfortunately sometimes this is the case with some zucchini varieties like cucumber as well. I find the best way is to peel them, this way most of the bitterness goes away.
What is the best way to core the Zucchini?
I've heard that this corer here is the best, haven't got it myself though but my family in Egypt swears by it. You might find it in a Middle Eastern store though so try and let me know.I hope this helps.
My aunt used to use an old metal nail file lol
Oh my, she is a skilled person 🙂
I love this kusa recipe! Muhammad, the best way to carve out kusa is to use a corer. Just look on Amazon.