Nutrition and Fitness with Randa
27Jun/106

Cooking with Zucchini Lebanese-Style

It is the season for summer squash! While this dish is also great in the winter, it uses that extra zucchini in your garden very nicely!

One of our favorite Lebanese dishes is called Koussa. It is a tomato-based meat and zucchini stew served over Arabic rice*. My mother, cooked this satisfying, delicious meal for us growing up and I now cook it for my kids.

There were four of us siblings aged within 4 years of each other, so my mother wisely altered the original recipe to one that was easier to make and took a lot less time. This is the version I am sharing with you....... (You're welcome!)

It is an easy weeknight meal, and I have also served Koussa to guests on many occasions with a side of toasted pita bread, hummus, and cucumber mint yogurt**. Once again, it is a meal that takes few ingredients to make and not much time.

Let's get started!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium zucchini, cut in 4 lengthwise and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 lb. ground beef (I have used turkey, but preferred lean beef for a more authentic flavor)
  • 1 medium or large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 18. oz. V8 juice (if you use low-sodium, add a little more salt at the end to taste)
  • 1/2 -1 cup toasted pine nuts (if you are a member at Costco, if is much cheaper to buy in bulk)

1. In a large pan, sautée zucchini in 1tbsp butter on medium heat with the lid on until zucchini is tender but not overcooked.

2. While zucchini cooks, season with spices and saute the meat and onions in 1Tbsp butter for 10-15 minutes until onions are tender and meat is browned.

3. When meat mixture is done, add in zucchini, V8 juice, and pine nuts. Bring to a boil, then simmer with lid on for 20-30 minutes.

4. Serve over Arabic rice and a dollop of laban, or plain, non-fat yogurt on top,  or a side of cucumber mint yogurt.

ARABIC RICE: Rice with Vermicelli (ruz bi shirieh)

  • 1 cup uncooked rice*
  • 2/3 cup vermicelli broken into small pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp salt

1. Melt the butter on high heat and toss the vermicelli until golden brown (be careful not to scorch!)

2. Add the rice and stir until it is well mixed with the vermicelli. Pour in the water and add the salt.

3. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until rice is done.

*White rice is typically used in Lebanon, and while not as authentic,  you can certainly use brown. My friend made this recipe with brown rice to try and "convert" her 5 year old from eating white, and he loved it. He now asks for "Randa's Rice"!

CUCUMBER MINT YOGURT: A refreshing addition to any meal or snack

  • 3 cups plain yogurt (I use non-fat)
  • 1 cucumber, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed, or 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried mint leaves

1. Stir yogurt until smooth. If using Greek Yogurt, add a little water to thin it. Blend in the garlic or garlic powder.

2. Add cucumber.

3. Season with salt and dried mint leaves and mix well.

4. Serve chilled sprinkled with fresh (or dried) mint leaves.

Enjoy! Sahtan!

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