Koosa Bi Laban  (Stuffed Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce) or Koosa bi Banadoora (Stuffed Zucchini with Tomato Sauce)

Koosa Bi Laban (Stuffed Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce) or Koosa bi Banadoora (Stuffed Zucchini with Tomato Sauce)

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I’ve banned myself from visiting City Shop. It’s an overpriced shop that caters to Westerners. I have found just about everything offered at City Shop in other stores around town. It’s only benefit is the convenience of knowing that if you need something, they will have it (at a price of course). So while it takes away from the adventures of being a nomad, it’s a go-to shop when you do not have the time to be so adventurous.

The hubby and I had a date day on Saturday. He went for a hair cut I went over to City Shop to see what they had new. While strolling through the aisles I noticed they had Lebanese Koosa. While small zucchinis are ideal, all I found was medium to large ones. I picked all of the medium size ones and then a couple of large. Generally I will make about 24 small stuffed koosa’s to feed my family. It leaves plenty of leftovers for lunch or the next day. I’ve seen koosa at the vegetable market, but they’ve been too big to use for tonight’s dinner.

images-1I bought 12 with the intention of making Koosa the 2 popular Lebanese ways. Both recipes call for the same Beef Rice Stuffing and preparation. It’s the sauce that sets them apart. While I’ve always made Koosa with Tomato Sauce I never made Koosa with Yogurt Sauce. I wasn’t sure how it would work out but since I wanted to finish my yogurt so I could make a new batch, I figured today would be the day that I make it.

My love for Maureen Abood has been thoroughly expressed on my blog, so it’s no surprise that I used both of her recipes for tonight’s dinner, albeit slightly modified.

Abood’s method for coring Koosa is fantastic so head over to her site and learn how to core like a pro! In a nut shell, using a squash corer, insert into the cut end of the koosa and twist, then pull the corer out with the insides of the koosa. You’ll need to do this several times, scraping the sides. Be careful not to puncture through the skin!

I must say… I love that I could find all of the ingredients in Shanghai! That’s what’s so great about Lebanese food. Fresh vegetables, meat and rice are the main staples of most delicious dishes.

Beef and Rice Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grained rice
  • 1 pound Ground Beef or Lamb
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients by hand until well combined

FullSizeRender 34Koosa Bi Laban (Stuffed Koosa in Yogurt Sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 6 Koosa large or 10 small, cored and cut the stem off (if the neck of the Koosa is bent, cut that off as well)
  • 1/2  recipe Beef and Rice Stuffing
  • 6 cups Yogurt (homemade works best, but Greek will work in a pinch)
  • 1 Garlic Clove, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Crushed Mint
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Cold Water

Directions:

  1. Fill each koosa with the rice stuffing by hand. Push it in to make sure there are no air pockets. Leave 1/4 inch at the opening to give the rice room to expand.
  2. Arrange koosa, in a deep stockpot, cut-end up. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt, cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to boil on high heat.
  3. Simmer on medium for 45 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Place cooked koosa in a 9×13 glass baking dish. Discard the water
  6. For the Yogurt sauce: Heat yogurt, garlic, salt and mint  in another pot on medium heat. Mix cold water and cornstarch, then add to the yogurt mixture. Bring to a boil, stirringly constantly until slightly thickened.
  7. Pour yogurt sauce over koosa.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for about 10 minutes.

Delicious!! Maureen Abood calls for you to cook the yogurt and koosa on the stovetop together. Since my koosa was so big it would have taken about 8-10 cups to fill up the pot but I only had 6 cups of yogurt. My sister-in-law in the USA bakes her’s so I figured I would improvise. No regrets! It worked out perfectly.

Lebanese sauces are a lot like Italian sauces. Some people prefer them thick, while others thin. I like my yogurt thicker, but you could easily thin it out by slowly adding water to the pot of yogurt until it reaches your desired thinness.

FullSizeRender 35Koosa bi Banadoora (Stuffed Koosa in Tomato Sauce)

Ingredients:

  • 6 Koosa large or 10, cored and cut the stem off (if the neck of the Koosa is bent, cut that off as well)
  • 1/2 recipe Beef and Rice Stuffing
  • 2 pound Tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 6 large Garlic Cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, quartered
  • 1 large Bay Leaf
  • Yogurt, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Fill each koosa with the rice stuffing by hand. Push it in to make sure there are no air pockets. Leave 1/4 inch at the opening to give the rice room to expand.
  2. Arrange koosa, in a deep stockpot, cut-end up. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt, cover with tomato puree, tomato paste, salt, garlic, onion, bay leaf and enough water to just cover the koosa. Cover the pot and boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 50-60 minutes. Add more water if it looks too thick.
  3. Carefully remove the koosa from the pot and cover with a ladle of tomato broth. Serve with a side of yogurt for dipping.

I’ve made this several times using different recipes, but I really liked Maureen Abood’s method. She didn’t call for tomato paste and I didn’t add it but my broth was much thinner than I wanted. I think this is because I used freshly pureed tomatoes as opposed to canned tomato puree. If you’re using a can, you won’t need to add paste unless you want a much thicker consistency.

Regardless of which recipe you follow, be careful when removing the Koosa from the pot as they will break apart easily.

Be adventurous and give it a try!

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2 Comments on Koosa Bi Laban (Stuffed Zucchini with Yogurt Sauce) or Koosa bi Banadoora (Stuffed Zucchini with Tomato Sauce)

The Recipe Nomadette said : Guest Report Oct 14, 2015 at 2:23 AM

Thanks Melissa!

Melissa said : Guest Report Oct 14, 2015 at 1:49 AM

Looks amazing!

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