Ingredient: Summer Squash, or Coosa

A thrilling experience I had when I was living in Chicago was discovering Lebanese coosa at the Green City Market (I’m easily thrilled). This variety of summer squash was dubbed “Korean” squash by the wonderful Green Acres Farm, but it is one and the same as the small, pale green Lebanese squash I hadn’t seen anywhere but at Horrock’s Farm Market back in my hometown of Lansing, Michigan. My coosa pictured above (center) is a little knicked after surviving a trip up north this week with my sister (we are serious about our coosa. I haven’t seen any up here, so Peggy brought some up from Chicago. Thanks Peg.). But not unlike some of us, a few knicks and bruises along the way just gave the coosa character and didn’t really detract from its beauty, or more importantly, its delicious flavor.

This week we are going to make a classic summer Lebanese dish of stuffed squas­­­­h. So stock up soon on a dozen or more green and yellow zucchini and, if you are lucky, Lebanese squash, and get ready to savor this mouthwatering dish. Try a combination of different squash; it’s beautiful on the plate and the palate. The golden yellow zucchini is especially pretty, sweet and succulent. Select squash that is straight rather than bent as many of them are, and you’ll want them to be plump enough to stuff. If you can only find bent squash, still get it. We’ll just cut the bent end off, and that will be fine.

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  1. Geralyn Lasher on July 25, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    I know exactly what you mean by being excited to see koosa somewhere–I saw it on Saturday at the Lansing City Market and couldn’t believe it.

    • Maureen Abood on July 25, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      I hope you bought some so you can make coosa in all of your free time.

      • Geralyn Lasher on July 25, 2011 at 11:27 AM

        You would be so proud of me–I actually made hashwi all by myself on Saturday and it turned out pretty good! You have inspired me!

        • Maureen Abood on July 25, 2011 at 11:33 AM

          That is great, sounds delicious!! You need good Lebanese food to help keep you going like the energizer bunny that you are!!

  2. Ellen Hildenbrand on July 25, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Hi Maureen — I have to share with you! I had a similar experience here in Louisville at our Farmers Market in the shopping center where I work. Fabulous farmer had a bushel basket full of beautiful Coosa squash — it was marked “koosa”. I started to chat with the farmer and came to find out that his wife is Lebanese and we exchanged comments about how to make this yummy dish! We actually drew a small gathering of folks who had never heard of Coosa and wanted the recipe for stuffed squash…wish you had been there to help me out! Thank you for all the delicious recipes — I signed my Mom up to read them as well — she is enjoying every post!

    • Maureen Abood on July 25, 2011 at 9:59 AM

      Ellen, I love reading this–what a great scene!! The spelling of coosa/koosa/kousa/kusa is anyone’s guess…as with much of the translation of Arabic to English. I’ve seen it spelled differently in every Lebanese cookbook I own!! Let me know if you make the coosa, and how lucky that you have some at your market in Louisville. Thanks for signing Aunt Peg up too.

  3. tasteofbeirut on July 25, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    I can relate; I was so excited when I found koossa at the local middle-eastern store; now however, they are going all-out, selling fresh grape leaves, fresh loquats (akidinia), fresh me’teh (Armenian cucumbers) etc.

    • Maureen Abood on July 25, 2011 at 10:10 AM

      Oh my gosh, seriously?! My cousin Jim found fresh grape leaves in a Lebanese market in Phoenix this past spring. What I’d give!! And I see yet another spelling of “koossa”–thanks Joumana–

      • Norma Corey-Lambert on August 21, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        I am ½ Lebanese and ½ Italian. I have the best of the Med! My Mom was Italian and my Sito taught her to cook Arabic. My Mom cooked everything. One day, I’ll tell the story about Irish Soda Bread.

        Anyway, I love to cook and Sito taught me a lot too. I’ve been told I’m pretty good too.

        I pick grape-leaves in my yard. I wash and dry them and freeze them for the winter. My daughter-in-law and I just recently cored, blanched and froze koosa for winter too. I found a two-minute blanch and a cold bath, keeps them very good. I read it is not the best thing to just freeze them.

        We are fortunate that we have two farm stands (maybe more) that have fresh koosa.

  4. Shelly Stahl on July 25, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Hi Maureen – what a beautiful blog, I so enjoy reading it, thank you!

  5. Anne on July 25, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    And you’ll be happy to know that most of my Whole Foods stores have it now too! the only problem is, i don’t have any way to clean it out – oh that may be tomorrow’s entry – i will wait for further instruction.

    • Maureen Abood on July 25, 2011 at 3:34 PM

      You got it, more info to follow!! Great about Whole Foods.

  6. Patti Markho on July 25, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Maureen, koosa is my FAVORITE lebanese dish!! Love this entry, can’t wait to read the next installation. PZ

  7. Sherry Liimatainen on August 2, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    We tried cousa squash for the first time (sauteed in olive oil with onion and spices). We are curious of the nitritional value of this tasty treat. Does anyone have a source?

  8. John on August 5, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    Thank you for mentioning your experience with this vegetable. I had never heard of it until a friend gave me one yesterday. She had grown it after receiving seeds (or maybe seedlings) from a fellow organic gardener. Neither of them nor I is middle eastern so it was entirely new to all of us. I sauteed part of it lightly in olive oil. Kept some uncooked to add to tossed salad, as I often do with certain summer squashes on the day they are picked. Delicious both ways! As for stuffing a koosa or any other squash, that is beyond my repertoire but I will mention it to my friend.

  9. Jannette on August 22, 2015 at 11:56 PM

    I need a great recipe for the inside of the koosa . I lost my favourite cook book and I just cant remember the ingredients to make something amazing with the insides . Please help

    • Maureen Abood on August 23, 2015 at 7:36 PM

      I have a great recipe in my cookbook–this is ijjeh, using eggs and herbs. Delicious!

  10. Heather AbuSneineh on June 24, 2016 at 9:13 PM

    I have found Koosa in our grocery stores in Beaverton/Portland Area, Oregon. It is labeled Mexican Squash, or white squash, (I think).

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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!

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