Zucchini mussaka (Msa’3et al-koossa)

July 9, 2013  •  Category:


Most couples  in Lebanon work and have hectic lives. The days of dangling a basket from one’s balcony to collect veggies from a street cart vendor  are pretty much over. I know several restaurants in town with names like “your mom’s cooking”; they offer  traditional, homestyle foods that most people  no longer have time to prepare.

One such place is a tiny kitchen down the street from where I live; I called and asked “what did the chef cook today?” and was told he made a mussaka with zucchini instead of the usual eggplant; I was also informed that he did not fry it, but grilled it instead. (This chef is keen on healthier cooking). Mussaka in the Lebanese kitchen is basically a stir-fry of eggplant, onion, tomatoes, garlic with a sprinkling of chickpeas. The whole lot is stewed slowly until the eggplant is silky tender.

Here is the zucchini version:

  • 1 lb zucchini, preferably small variety , cut into chunks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 1 lb tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt, pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven; fry the onion slices till golden, adding the garlic cloves and zucchini chunks the last five minutes. (You can also grill the zucchini and add to the pot). Add the tomatoes  and drained chickpeas and season to taste. Cover the pot and stew over very gentle heat for about 30 minutes, adding one cup of water if needed. Uncover and simmer a few minutes longer to reduce the sauce if it is too thin. Serve at room temperature. 

 NOTE: You can chop 3 or 4 cloves and mash them in a mortar with salt and add them to the stew towards the end of cooking; dried mint powder is sometimes added as well as a diced green pepper.







8 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Scrumptious! A great summer dish.

    Those houses are beautiful.



  2. Nidal says:

    La dernière fois que j’ai préparé ce plat, j’ai fait exactement comme ta recette.
    C’est à la cuisson que j’ai un peu modifié les choses: J’ai démarré la cuisson de l’ensemble dans une pôle sans la couvrir, pour laisser s’évaporer l’eau de végétation des légumes, ensuite j’ai introduit le même plat dans un four préchauffé en mode grill.
    J’avais, auparavant, nappé la surface d’une légère couche de Parmesan rappé (Parmigiano Reggiano). Le gril et le fromage doré donnent un côté croustillant à l’ensemble.
    Le résultat était à la hauteur (Tamam !…Traduisez: Very good).
    Le restant du plat a été mangé froid, le lendemain (Encore Moumtaz !…Traduisez: Excellent)
    Dans ce genre de plats que tu propose, Joumana, nous sommes dans le cœur du sujet : ”Mangez Sain, mangez Bon”…Surtout dans cette torride chaleur de l’été.

    P.S.: Pour moi, l’apport de l’oignon, associée à un élément essentiel qui est le Suc (obtenu grâce à une cuisson lente des légumes et de la sauce aux tomate) ont un rôle déterminant dans le succès de ces plats.

    Demain, je ferai cette même Moussaka avec la variante ”Aubergine”. J’adore les Aubergines…

  3. Gabi says:

    I’ld love to have a “your mom’s cooking” just around the corner. Would be a regular at least once a week, I think.The lebanese moussaka reminds a bit about ratatouille, one of my favourites.

    Are these wonderful buildings in Beirut?

    • Joumana says:

      @Gabi: yes, there are a few buildings like this left and luckily this one is in my neighborhood! 🙂

      @Nidal: oui, j’ai souvent pensé ajouter une béchamel comme font les Grecs, mais je préfère encore ta méthode qui est simple et légère. 🙂

      @Paula: I don’t know, I wanted to capture her pose, so typical of a lot of elderly in Beirut these days. It is sad.

  4. Belinda @zomppa says:

    It is sad the loss of just stopping and enjoying life…but glad you have a “home cooked” place down the street!

  5. Sarah G says:

    This is so colourful and sounds delicious and healthy. Love the building!

  6. Paula Mello says:

    Two things that I love, mussaka and zucchini, in my version I don’t use chickpeas but potatoes with eggplant in layers and a LOT of garlic. So delicious!! I must try this recipe, I’m sure will be surprisingly different.

    Lovely houses… Who is the old woman? She seems so sad…

  7. Lea Ann (Cooking On says:

    This caught my attention since I have my first countertop full of zucchini this year. I must make this, sounds so easy and good. Pinned.

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