Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Stuffed Zucchini Squash- or Kousa Mahshi

Middle Eastern Stuffed Vegetables

Stuffed zucchini squash, known in the Middle East as kousa mahshi,  is traditional Middle Eastern dish that my mother-in-law used to make, and we all loved. Mahshi is a word used for any stuffed foods and kousa is an Arabic word for squash. Easy to make too.

My husband and his family lived in Cairo, Egypt and my mother-in-law's recipes from her family are outstanding. Koosa mahshi or any mahshi was a regular item on her weekly menu since meat was tough and expensive for a family of seven.

My MIL (who left Egypt to come to the US at age 48) shared many of her delicious recipes with me since I loved them and liked to cook. However, none of her recipes were written down, so I learned by watching her make them. 

brown stones stairsteps

On a recent trip to Israel, we spent two nights in an all-inclusive hotel in Tiberias. The meals were incredible and reminded me of the recipes that my mother-in-law used to make (she died last year at age 96).

Middle Eastern buffet dinner, vegan, GF

My Israeli sister-in-law gave me an idea of the ingredients she uses to make the filling for vegetarian stuffed veggies, so when I returned home, I decided to try to make the Kousa Mahshi using her suggestions because my MIL's recipes contained some chopped meat with the rice.

a person cutting cucumbers in front of a bunch of tomatoes

My MIL used a slightly different variety of green squash with a thinner skin and shorter body as shown above, but I ended up using the traditional zucchini because that is what I had on hand. She used to hollow out the entire smaller squash with a special coring tool called a manakara in Arabic.

I am sharing this photo below from Amazon from Bon Bollon the company that makes the manakara or vegetable corer. It is exactly how my MIL cored her veggies to stuff them. You can get the simple vegetable corer  on Amazon which is availale at a very reasonable price.

The  photo above is from the Amazon page to buy the corer: 
vegetable corer link

a group of zucchini vegetables

I used a zucchini given to me by a neighbor and simply cut my larger zucchini into 3 even sections. I then scooped out each section 3/4 of the way with a melon baller because I have not bought a vegetable corer yet.
scooped out zucchini , melon baller, vegan

I made an amazing vegetarian filling using rice, lots of herbs, and seasonings based on my sister-in-law's suggestions and then cooked the vegetables in sauce in a large covered skillet for 40 minutes.

vegan stuffed squash, cilantro, GF

stuffed peppers, vegan stuffed squash, GF

I also stuffed a few green frying peppers that I had
                     from a neighbor's garden and cooked both vegetables together in one skillet in a tomato sauce covered.
stuffed peppers and stuffed zucchini, rice, vegan
                  This recipe is vegan, oil-free, and gluten-free. 

Although it may look like work, I prepped everything and made the filling in a total of 15 minutes. Then I cooked the two types of vegetable mahshi for about 40 minutes together in the same pan along with the zucchini balls from scooping.  


5 medium green frying peppers, washed and cored
2 medium large zucchini, cut into thirds, and hollowed out 3/4 of the way using a melon baller.
2 cups of white rice, washed well to remove the starch (uncooked)
2 cups of finely chopped cilantro or parsley (or a combo)
1/4 cup of chopped basil
2 tablespoons of dried crushed mint
Optional: thyme, oregano, or any fresh herb you have
3 fat cloves of fresh garlic, chopped or pressed
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 jar of mild or medium salsa (chunky style)
1 jar of marinara sauce 
4 cups water

Assemble rice, cilantro (and or parsley), salsa, basil, mint, herbs, garlic,  and garlic powder in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Use the rice stuffing to stuff the peppers. Use your finger to push the filling down into the pepper if using the green frying peppers and they are narrow. Then fill the cavities in the zucchini squash. Arrange the vegetables in a high rimmed large skillet and cover with the marinara sauce and water. Place on a medium low heat, cover the pot, and cook for about 40 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Check occasionally to prevent burning. Add a little more water if necessary as the sauce cooks down to prevent burning.

My Notes: 
1. Save the scooped out balls from the inside of the squash and cook the balls in the same skillet with the veggies. Just throw them on top.

2. I use the salsa as a shortcut for onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc. - the jar of salsa does the trick and you choose the amount of heat- mild, medium, or hot!

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  1. This is really interesting. I love that hotel buffet meal..thank you for sharing the recipe, Judee.

  2. It's so nice to watch someone make recipes and learn from that. I know you miss your precious Mother in law. When we had a garden the zucchini always produced the best and I made all kinds of recipes with it...always good too!

  3. This looks amazing Judee. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I enjoyed the story of your MIL. Great food traditions indeed! It looks delicious too!

  5. What a delicious, flavorful way to eat zucchini! And even better that it's a recipe passed down from your MIL!

  6. I love kousa mashi....this recipe looks delicious!!.........Abrazotes, Marcela

  7. So beautiful, especially the stuffed zucchini! I'm sure your mother-in-law is looking down with pride. By the way, thanks so much for your lovely comments on my anniversary post. You're always so very thoughtful and kind.😀

  8. I have a recipe for stuffed zucchini that uses a teenage marrow (quite large) that is vegetarian. I shall have to blog it sometime as this looks great :)

  9. Wonderful post I love those stairs too amd delicious food of course

  10. Thank you for commenting on my blog Although we are not vegan, we occasionally eat a vegetarian meal so I’ll be checking out your blog regularly to change up things. This stuffed zucchini recipe looks great and will finally allow me to utilize a zucchini hollowing tool that a friend gave me years ago.

  11. My ex-mother in law also had great recipes and I learned so much watching her in her kitchen! Really precious experiences, right?

  12. This looks amazing, Judee! and reminds me of a stuffed vegetable dish that my mum used to make too. It was from long gourd. I never tried but looking at your recipe I am inspired to do.
    By the way I would love to see the small eggplant pickle.

  13. Great post and this looks wonderful, such a great use for zucchini, thanks!

  14. An interesting read, thank you.

    All the best Jan

  15. I've visited Egypt twice, and I loved its cuisine - they especially know how to make delicious vegetables! These stuffed zucchini look terrific! I've never made stuffed zucchini this way, and I definitely want to try it!


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