Simply Lebanese

Stuffed Zucchini and Eggplant (Koosa Mahshi)

Koosa Mahshi
  • Prep Time
    45 mins
  • Cook Time
    45 mins
  • Serving
    5
Koosa Mahshi is Lebanese stuffed summer squash dish simmered in a delicious tomato sauce. This dish is incredibly filling and family friendly. 
Koosa Mahshi

Throughout the Middle-East, there are so many different varieties of rice and meat stuffed vegetables. One of the most popular ones in Lebanese cuisine is Koosa Mahshi. Koosa Mahshi literally translates to stuffed zucchini. More often than not, eggplants are also stuffed alongside the koosa (zucchini). 

This dish might seem heavy, but is actually light, and healthy. Little to no oil or butter is used in this recipe. While this dish is traditionally made with ground beef or lamb, it can easily be made vegan by omitting the meat. 

Koosa Mahshi

The eggplant and squash are stuffed with the same filling of seasoned rice and ground beef or lamb known as “hashweh”. They are then cooked together in the same pot in a light tomato based sauce. Hashweh is incredibly popular in Middle-Eastern recipes such as in Stuffed Grape Leaves. If you are not a fan of zucchini or the eggplant, you can make this dish with only one or the other. For this recipe, you will need a total of about 5lb of squash and eggplant combined.

Types of Zucchini and Eggplants to Stuff

The squash most often sold and used in this recipe in Lebanon is light green and smaller in size than the typical American dark green zucchini. This zucchini is known as “Mexican squash” or “gray squash”. It honestly took me a while to find them locally, since my Middle-Eastern grocer does not sell produce. A lot of farmers’ markets sell them too, especially in the summer. Sometimes they are also called ‘Calabaza Squash’. 

However, using this type of zucchini is not required to make this dish, you can definitely use whatever small squash you find! Same goes with the eggplant, however, do try to steer clear of eggplants with the tougher skins, such as the large American varieties since you are cooking and eating the skin of the eggplant in this recipe. 

Koosa Mahshi

The best eggplants to stuff for this stuffed zucchini and eggplants dish is known as “Italian eggplant.” Look for medium (5-6 inch) or smaller eggplants with a thinner skin such as the baby eggplants. Lastly, try and choose eggplants that are similar size to the zucchini/squash you are using, so that way they will cook evenly in the same amount of time. 

For both the squash and the eggplant, I try to choose ones that are a little wider on the bottom and narrow in the opening. That way, I can fill a lot of the stuffing in them, but there is less risk of the stuffing coming out in the cooking process. 

Using a Corer

You begin by hollowing out the zucchini and eggplant then stuffing them. You want the squash and eggplants to be at room temperature before you hollow them out. This prevents the vegetables from cracking while you core them.

Also, the eggplants need to be softened up by rolling them on a flat surface before coring. This helps the insides come out faster and easier. The corer that I use I bought in Lebanon a couple years ago, but I have seen them sold at kitchen specialty stores here as well. Here’s a few of them I found on Amazon: Zucchini Squash Vegetable Corer or Better Houseware Zucchini CorerOnce you have the corer, you are ready to make this hearty and delicious meal!

Do not throw away the insides of the zucchini, save them to make a delicious sautéed appetizer

STEP 1

Prepare your zucchini by cutting off the stems and ends.

Koosa Mahshi

Prepare the eggplant by rolling them on a hard surface (like your countertop) using the palm of your hand to soften the insides which will make it easier to hollow out.

Proceed to cut the stems off the eggplant after you have rolled them.

STEP 2

Hollow out the squash and eggplant using a corer Zucchini Squash Vegetable Corer or Better Houseware Zucchini Corer.

Try not to be too rough as you will crack the squash with the corer. Also, it is easier to core them if they are at room temperature rather than cold.

Once you have cored them, wash them well with cold water and set aside in a strainer.

Koosa Mahshi

STEP 3

Prepare the filling by washing the rice 2-3 times. Combine the rice, ground beef, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, and 7 Spices

Mix well but be careful not to break the rice as it is sensitive when not cooked.

Koosa Mahshi

STEP 4

Stuff the squash and eggplant with your filling. Do not overfill or they will explode while cooking. Leave about 1 inch of room at the top.

Koosa Mahshi
Koosa Mahshi

STEP 5

Cut a medium sized tomato into chunks. Put one chunk of tomato in each of the stuffed squash and eggplant. This helps the filling stay inside.

Koosa Mahshi

STEP 6

Place all the stuffed squash and eggplant into a large pot. Add the tomato paste, crushed garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

Koosa Mahshi

STEP 7

Fill with hot water until all the squash are covered. For me, this took about 8 cups of water. Cook on medium-high heat for 30 minutes.

Koosa Mahshi

After the 30 minutes, add the dried mint. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Koosa Mahshi

Serve warm plain or with cold yogurt. Enjoy!

Koosa Mahshi
Koosa Mahshi

Stuffed Zucchini & Eggplant

Koosa Mahshi is Lebanese stuffed summer squash dish simmered in a delicious tomato sauce. This dish is incredibly filling and family friendly. 
4.63 from 8 votes
Print Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Lebanese, Mediterranean
Keyword: Koosa Mahshi, Kousa Mahshi, Lebanese Zucchini
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 5 People
Calories: 607kcal
Author: Iman

Ingredients

  • 10 Zucchini
  • 5 Eggplant
  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • cups Long Grain Rice
  • tsp. 7 Spices
  • ¼ tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 Tomato
  • ¼ cup Tomato Paste
  • 3 Clove of Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Dried Mint
  • 8 cups Water

Instructions

  • Prepare your zucchini by cutting off the stems and ends. Prepare the eggplant by rolling them on a hard surface (like your countertop) using the palm of your hand to soften the insides which will make it easier to hallow out. Proceed to cut the stems off the eggplant after you have rolled them.
  • Hallow out the squash and eggplant using the corer. Try not to be too rough as you will crack the squash with the corer. Also, it is easier to core them if they are at room temperature rather than cold. 
  • Once you have cored them, wash them well with cold water and set aside in a strainer.
  • Prepare the filling by washing the rice 2-3 times. Combine the rice, ground beef, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, and 7 Spices. Mix well but be careful not to break the rice as it is sensitive when not cooked. 
  • Stuff the squash and eggplant with your filling. Do not overfill or they will explode while cooking. Leave about 1 inch of room at the top. 
  • Cut a medium sized tomato into chunks. Put one chunk of tomato in each of the stuffed squash and eggplant. This helps the filling stay inside
  • Place all the stuffed squash and eggplant into a large pot. Add the tomato paste, crushed garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Fill with hot water until all the squash are covered. For me, this took about 8 cups of water. Cook on medium-high heat for 30 minutes.
  • After the 30 minutes, add the dried mint. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
    Serve warm plain or with cold yogurt. Enjoy!

Notes

Since you are using the zucchini/eggplant skins only, you will have the insides leftover which you can reuse in another dish instead of throwing them out. One popular use for the leftover zucchini insides is to sauté them in a pan with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then toss them with eggs for a healthy fried egg and zucchini dish! You can chop the leftover zucchini and use in recipes such as “zucchini bread” or zucchini fritters. Free to get creative and use the whole vegetable.

Nutrition

Calories: 607kcal | Carbohydrates: 82g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 614mg | Potassium: 2611mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 1410IU | Vitamin C: 88mg | Calcium: 184mg | Iron: 6mg

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    Recipe Reviews

    • Victoria Nicklos

      5 stars
      I am anxious to try this recipe as you explained the details so well. I am first generation Lebanese and my mother was an excellent cook however, I am not. Thanks!

      • Iman

        It sounds more intimidating than it really is, try it and let me know how it comes out!

    • Vanessa

      5 stars
      Hi Iman,

      This dish is beautiful! It was a hit!

      Most of mine did explode though as the rice expanded towards the end, started to split. Should I be using medium grain rice for this dish? How do I prevent this from happening next time Xx

      • Iman

        Hi! You must have overstuffed them. You want to leave at least inch from the top so the rice has room to expand. And, when you’re filling them up, don’t stuff the rice inside but rather lightly fill it up.

    • Fred

      Thanks for the recipe . My mother always put a reversed plate on top of the mehshi while they are cooking It prevents them from floating, and maybe some of the rice not cooking well. Also, you can round slice an onion or two and tomatoes, and put them in the bottom, and they are served later along the mehchi for extra flavour.

      • Iman

        Enjoy! Yes, I have seen people use a plate but, I don’t find it necessary.

    • Dalia

      5 stars
      This was delicious! I’m a Lebanese emigrant and this was a really comforting dish, bringing me back home! I found the quantities perfect. As a first-timer making this dish, I made the mistake of stuffing the courgettes too much. Obviously after cooking, the filling became super tight due to the rice expanding. I would recommend any first-timers watching out to not stuff the filling in too tightly – keep it more loose! Thank you very much for this recipe!

      • Iman

        Thats wonderful, thank you!

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