Mahshi kousa, or rice stuffed squash, is a famous (and delicious) Middle Eastern dish that uses cored kousa (squash). Mahshi sliced kousa squash casserole, however, is made without having to core squash (Yay!). It's a one-pot, quick, and easy meal with all the great flavors of mahshi kousa: spiced ground meat, squash, rice, and a garlicky onion tomato base.
My American mother has made delicious Lebanese food all of my life, and this is her mahshi kousa hack for a quick weeknight meal. It is such a time-saver! Flavorful minced ground beef (or lamb) is browned to perfection with onions and garlic then slow-cooked with sliced squash, tomatoes, and rice.
What I Love About This Recipe
Mahshi sliced kousa casserole is such an easy one-pot weeknight meal that reheats incredibly well. It's a perfectly balanced meal that has minced meat, kousa (squash), onions, garlic, tomatoes, rice, and spices. There is a time and place for coring kousa, but not in the middle of my busy week. Finally, the best part about this dish is the amount of vegetables jam-packed inside.
- Minced ground beef: I prefer semi lean ground beef for this recipe (85% to 90% lean). Ground lamb is a suitable alternative.
- Rice: Any type of rice will do for this recipe, however, I prefer to use long grain rice for this mahshi sliced kousa recipe.
- 7 spice: This is a combination of 7 spices mixted together, and it's commonly used in Lebanese and Middle Eastern cooking. If you don't have any on hand, substitute ground cinnamon.
- Calabaza Squash (Kousa): Kousa means squash in Arabic, but it means a particular type of squash. Kousa squash is the same as calabacitas squash (I've also seen it called calabaza squash or Mexican squash). It's little in size with yellow and green coloring. If you can't find this particular type of squash at your grocery store, you can use two substitutes: large green zucchini or baby green zucchini. However, the best squash for this recipe is kousa, and the best kousa is the small sized because it's sweeter.
- Fresh garlic: This kousa recipe uses a lot of garlic. I recommend using fresh garlic cloves.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: My favorite olive oil right now is Whole Foods 365 Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Kousa Squash Casserole
Chop the onions and garlic. Slice the ends off of the kousa squash. Chop the squash into circles.
In a nonstick pot, add the olive oil on high heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the olive oil
Once the onions and garlic start to caramelize, add the ground beef.
Brown the beef and break up the clumps. Add the salt, pepper, and 7 spice to the ground meat. Mix well. Add the sliced squash.
Then, add the canned diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and 4 cups of water. Mix everything together well.
Cook on medium-high heat covered with a lid for about 25 minutes or until the squash starts to tear apart. Add the rice.
Add an additional cup of water and mix. Turn the stovetop down to low heat. Cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes until the rice is tender.
Check halfway through and stir. Serve with some lemon and cucumber mint yogurt.
Tips and Tricks
The two main tips for this squash and rice casserole are the stovetop setting and amount of liquid in the pot. Every stove and pot is different, elevations play a factor, and even the type of rice used can affect things. Therefore, make sure throughout this recipe that there is enough liquid in the pot and the bottom isn't burning. I generally stir the squash and rice casserole every 10 to 15 minutes, especially the first two times I made it myself. It can be more hands off after you have made it a few times.
Variations and Substitutions
- Substitute green zucchini for kousa squash. If you can't find kousa squash, green zucchini comes in close second.
- Use an extra can of diced tomatoes in lieu of tomato paste.
- Ground lamb can be substituted in lieu of ground beef.
A nonstick stovetop pot or Le Creuset enameled cast iron pot are the best pots to use for this recipe. Make sure the pots have a lid, so the rice can steam slowly.
You will also need:
- Chefs knife
- Cutting board
- Wooden spatula or High temp spatula (to brown the meat and onions)
Store this squash and rice casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 to 5 days. This recipe is also freezer-friendly, just store the rice casserole in an airtight freezer container for up to 3 months.
Kousa is small yellow and green squash known as calabaza squash (sometimes called calabacitas or"Mexican" squash) used in many Middle Eastern recipes.
Ground red meat, like ground lamb or ground beef, goes best with squash.