Stuffed zucchini (Mehshi koussa ablama)

August 1, 2012  •  Category:


Lebanese zucchini is tiny and almost sweet; this dish is considered comfort food here and the zucchinis are sold in supermarkets already cored to save people time. I had found a small battery-operated zucchini (and eggplant) corer at an Iranian bazaar in Beirut, but when I showed it around, most people said “no thank you, I can core faster than this machine”. 

Here is an idea: steam the zucchinis a couple of minutes till tender, cut them in half lengthwise and core them with a small spoon. Keep the zucchini flesh for another recipe (two possibilites, here and there). 

These are stuffed with either meat and spices, meat and rice, or rice and herbs for a vegan version. All delicious. The sauce can be either onion and tomatoes stewed, or pomegranate molasses and water. 

Mo3allem Philippe picking zucchinis.


  • 1  pound of zucchinis (the smallest you can find)
  • 1/3 pound of ground beef (fatty is better)
  • spices: 1 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of allspice, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, 1/4 tsp of paprika
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes or 3 or 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • OR 1/4 cup of pomegranate molasses diluted in 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 cloves of garlic (optional)
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  1. Wash the zucchinis and remove the small cap from one end; core with a veggie corer or split in half and core with a spoon. Set the flesh aside to use later for treedeh or fritters.
  2. Mix the meat and spices; chop the onion. Heat the olive oil and fry the onion till golden; add the meat and brown. Drain and stuff the zucchini with the meat. Gently fry the zucchini in a film of grease left on the skillet till golden; add the tomatoes and about enough water to come half-way up the zucchinis or the pomegranate juice. Cover the skillet and simmer gently 25 minutes or so. (You can also bake in a 325F oven for that same amount of time). Serve warm with pita bread or some rice.
NOTE: It is a good idea to place a small plate (inverted) on the zucchinis to keep them submerged in bouillon; my friend Asma adds on top of the plate a nice polished rock she found by the beach shore. 


24 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    A deliciously summery dish! I cook a lot with zucchinis at the moment….



  2. Tom Tall Clover Farm says:

    Joumana, perfect timing. I’m going out to harvest my koussa zukes. They are a lovely small size like those in your photo. I love your recipe. My grandmother used to add rice, but I like this recipe as version that cooks quicker which means I can eat sooner. 😉

  3. heguiberto says:

    Hello from the Bay 🙂
    Our community garden has been prolific at producing squashes from the 3 plants we have growing there. I’ve prepared them in many different ways but completely forgotten this type. I can replace the meat with TVP, I think it would taste great too. What do you think?

  4. Angie@Angiesrecipes says:

    Just had some zucchini stir-fry for the dinner. Your ground beef stuffed zucchinis look mouthwatering.

  5. Devaki says:

    Best meal ever!! LOVE that zook corer – I am a bit intimidated trying to do this by hand. So I think I’ll just halve them lengthwise and proceed. You’ve got me hooked on pom molasses so I am making these next week 🙂

    chow:) Devaki@ weavethousandflavors

  6. Lyndsey@TheTinySkill says:

    This looks so good. I love finding new things to do with zucchini. I haven’t seen them stuffed like this before!

  7. Kathy says:

    These are a family favorite in my house! Yours look perfect..I don’t fry mine, I place them in a pot with tomato liquid and cook on the top of the stove. Love the method you use!

  8. Diane says:

    This sounds delicious. I have just brought 3 large marrows in from the garden. I plan on stuffing them, I see no reason why I cannot use your recipe for that as well. Diane

  9. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Simple and brilliant! I don’t think mine would look so good.

  10. Anna says:

    Love the stuffed zukes! I need to get some pom molasses.

  11. Ed Habib says:

    Thanks for the tip on steaming before coring. I have quite a few in my garden right now and make stuffed kousa often. I also make something my grandmother made with the cored out flesh. I think she called it (trying to spell phonetically) Umfuddiky. She sauted some onion added in some ground lamb salt.pepper/five spice and then dropped in some eggs and parsley. This was my absolute favorite thing when growing up

  12. Tim Vidra says:

    This looks so amazingly rustic! A must try!

  13. deana@lostpast says:

    I love that way of doing zucchini. I always split them but this would make for a much moister filling… great recipe.

  14. Mercotte says:

    trop drôle, j’ai justement acheté au marché ce matin les mêmes petites courgettes , je te pique la recette ! vendue !

  15. Aslı says:

    They’re looking delicious! My mom cooks the same usually and they’re so good with yougrt.

    Greetings from İstanbul 🙂

  16. Janmarie Haggar says:

    It’s in the stove cooking as I Am writing. I give it 5 star ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Without even tasting it becausealk if your recipes ate spectacular. !!!!!! Thank you Joumana!!!!

  17. Andrea says:

    Hi Joumana.
    I am a keen fan of yours and often go to your book for ideas and meals. I find you have a way of simplifying Lebanese recipes which is something I have always felt was possible and which I have been doing much better now with your help (only I don\’t say it out loud in order to avoid the \”mabisseer t\’assreh!!!, mish tayeb hehk\”).
    Anyway, like you I grew up in Lebanon so mihsheh and koussa are of course stuffed and zucchini, but for the life of me I cannot find the meaning of the word Ablama. Do you know what it is?

    Thanks in advance

    • Joumana Accad says:

      That’s funny that you would ask! Over the years, I too have wondered “why in the world is it called ablama?” I read many cooking books in Arabic to try and find an answer, to no avail. I think I am going to ask a Lebanese historian. Maybe the word is taken from Persian (although it doesn’t sound Persian), or there is an explanation in the etymology. To follow…

  18. Andrea says:

    PS: I too found a coring machine only mine is not automated. I have tried it on the larger size of koussa and it’s brilliant, as it is with onions, round koussa and beef tomatoes. Not sure the smallest blade would be small enough for the really small koussa required here.


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