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Friday, May 8, 2009

Kousa Mihshi (Stuffed Zucchini)

My husband and I really like a lot of ethnic foods. Last summer, when we were in San Diego, we went to an Afghani restaurant for the first time. It was love at first taste! Since that visit, I have figured out how to make the two dishes we ate there, shish barak and kofta challow. Last night, I made the shish barak (meat dumplings in a yogurt sauce). Unlike kofta challow, which is something of a "one pot" meal, I felt that the shish barak needed an accompaniment.

Thus began the search for an appropriate middle eastern side dish. This stuffed zucchini was the end result. This was a great side dish for the meal I made. However, because it has meat in it, it could serve very well as the main dish. This could also be made without the meat as a vegetarian dish.

Kousa Mihshi (Stuffed Zucchini)
Yield: 6 servings
3 8-10" zucchini

1 cup ground lamb (or hamburger)
1 c diced onion
1/2 cup seeded, diced tomatoes
1 TBS olive oil
1 cup cooked rice
1 TBS chopped parsley
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TBS toasted pine nuts

Cut the zucchini in half and scoop out the centers so that you have a nice boat shape left. Soak the zucchini in salted water while preparing the filling. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients for the filling. Remove zucchini from the salted water and pat dry with paper towels. Place zucchini in a foil lined deep dish baking vessel (you want to be able to cover them with foil without messing up the filling, if you had to you could bake them on a flat sheet and tent the foil). Evenly divide the filling between the zucchini "boats." Cover pan tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove foil, return the pan to oven, and increase the heat to 425 degrees F. Continue baking uncovered for another 15 minutes. Serve immediately. I find it easiest to serve them using tongs in one hand and a spatula in the other. The boats are somewhat fragile since the zucchini have steamed and softened, so a gentle hand in needed in serving them.

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