I really hate to waste, especially when it comes to food. I am the kind of person who will roast a chicken and then make chicken based dishes for the next couple of days using the "left-overs", extracting every bit of deliciousness from that bird that I can!
Yesterday I made Kafta which is a spiced and herbed lamb mince. It's one of my favorite ways to eat mince, so juicy and flavorsome - I love it and I have been accused of making it a bit too regularly (according to my boys) haha! Anyhoo, I have some left over raw/prepped Kafta in the fridge this morning and wondering what I can do with it that's a bit different and won't have my boys rolling their eyes "omg she's making that again".
This week I was at my favorite green grocer store and found some gorgeous pale green bulbs of baby Lebanese koosa (zucchini in English). The small tender bulbs are most often available through spring but sometimes in summer if the planting happens late enough in the season. I nabbed myself a bagful. Yum.
So... I have one of my favorite meats already prepped, and one of my favorite veges waiting for me to use... I wonder what will happen if I combine the two? Koosa Meshi is traditionally made by stuffing zucchini with a seasoned and spiced lamb mince and rice blend. I have never mixed Kafta with rice, but why not? So today I've blended the leftover kafta with a cup of long grain rice, cored and stuffed the baby koosa and left them to simmer in a seasoned passata base.
There's another big summer storm forecast for this evening, so my hope is that tonight we will enjoy an amazing new meal comprised by stitching together two of my favorite Lebanese recipes! We will be eating this evening on our balcony, hopefully watching lightning flash over the ocean as we enjoy our Frankenkoosa dinner!
Here's the real recipe for you:
An Authentic Northern Lebanese Recipe
1.5 cups or 500g beef or lamb mince
1 head (bulb) of garlic
1 cup medium grain rice
8-10 x zucchini - try to get the smallish Lebanese variety. If you cannot source those, use regular zukes, but make sure they are no larger than 15cm long, and select straight not bendy ones.
3 cups Passata, or 2 x cans crushed tomatoes
olive oil, salt & pepper
Core your koosa
Wash rice in cold water to remove excess starch
Hand mix uncooked rice, mince, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and one quarter cup cold water until thoroughly blended (taste for seasoning & adjust if required)
In your processor/mortar & pestle/chopping board, crush the garlic until it is finely chopped, but not a paste.
Put a good slug of olive oil into a large pot over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic until translucent and tender.
Add the Passata (or canned tomatoes) to the garlic. Add a cup of water and bring it to a simmer.
Taste the sauce and season. I usually add about 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp pepper here, but it will depend on how acidic the tomatoes are... and I do like my salt!!
Stuff the koosa with the meat mixture, taking care to not overfill. Remember the rice will need some room to expand. Make little sausages that I feed into the opening of each koosa. I fill to about 80%, imagining that while simmering, the sauce will leak its way into the open mouth of each koosa, the rice absorbing the delicious sauce, making the insides juicy and soft. If you overstuff the koosa, no liquid can get in; the rice will only absorb the juices from the meat, leaving the insides hard and dry.
Place each koosa into the sauce. If you have left over mince, form into sausages and add to the sauce alongside the koosa.
The koosa should be covered with sauce - they may bob about, and that's ok, so long as there is enough sauce to cover them if you were to press them down. If there is not enough liquid, add some more water and stir in gently.
Bring everything to a low simmer and cook covered for about an hour. Uncover and taste; the koosa should be cooked, but not falling apart. The rice should be cooked through and not at all crunchy.
Plate up a couple of koosa per serve, ladle over some flavorsome sauce from the bottom of your pot that has all that garlicy goodness. Top with a dollop of thick plain yoghurt.
Here's my vid of how to core your koosa: