Koosa Core Saute
What to do with koosa cores, the centers of summer squash scraped out when you maked stuffed koosa? There are a few great ways to put the cores to use; my favorite is a quick koosa core saute over high heat, with plenty of aromatics for flavor.
It’s like winning a little victory in the kitchen whenever it happens: there is something leftover, something you could easily dispose of, that you transform into something else.
And not just some meh-style duty food. I’m talking a great something else, a truly delicious something else.
How fascinating that among our generations, we get pat-on-the-back satisfied on the occasions when we cook with economy. Whereas the Sitto (the grandma) generation cooked this way as a matter of course, employing their quiet genius every single day.
Never would they toss the solids left at the bottom of a pot of freshly clarified butter; that can enrich another dish. The scraps cored from the koosa, the summer squash prepared to be stuffed and poached: these were stretched with egg and flour and herbs into little pancake fritters, an entire additional meal made on the scraps of another (see my cookbook, page 126 for that recipe), or folded back into the stuffing for the koosa.
I find myself wanting to think and act like a Sitto as much as possible in the kitchen. Sometimes I’ll hold onto my tidbits for a good long while, waiting to see what will inspire their use. I’m talking a quarter of a jar of orange blossom syrup and snack baggies of frozen sugared nuts leftover from the big-batch baklawas of the holiday season; same small quantity of clarified butter from the last round of ka’ik at Easter; etc.
But the koosa cores have shamed me on more than one occasion over the years, especially in recipe-testing mode, when in haste I’ve push them off the counter and into the sink’s disposal so I can move on to the next thing without being hindered by their presence.
Lately, though, I’ve taken to honoring the cores in the style my mom always treated sliced zucchini (which is what koosa is, just a lighter green smaller version): Sautéed on fairly high heat, with all kinds of aromatics like scallions and garlic, to get a caramelized sizzle and to avoid the wet limpness the squash naturally leans toward.
The end result? A perfect little bowl of heavenly flavor. The Sitto-strength comes shining through except for one small thing: that “little bowl.” Even a whole bunch of koosa core, as from my usual batch of 12, once sautéed melts down to a fairly small amount. Not enough to put on the table for any number gathered there.
WWSD: what would Sitto do? She would have either made another dozen koosa (from the garden, no?) to get more core to share, or handed the little bowl of koosa core goodness off to someone else, whoever happens to pass through the kitchen when the sauté is done.
She probably would not sit quietly and eat the whole little bowl herself while the stuffed koosa bubbles away on the stove, the way I do. So I just like to pretend that Sitto handed the bowl to me, which in a way she did, so I can enjoy my cook’s treat in peace.
Koosa Core Saute
- 2 cups cores of summer squash, koosa or zucchini
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Few grinds black pepper
- Pinch chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, parsely, cilantro, or dill
- Remove some of the liquid from the cores by placing the squash cores in a strainer over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle with the salt and let the cores drain for 15 minutes. Squeeze the cores to remove even more liquid. Discard the liquid or, if you're like Sitto, find another use for it.
- In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers but does not smoke. Add the koosa cores and scallions and cooking, stirring occasionally, for about three minutes or until the cores are lightly caramelized.
- Off of the heat, stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
- Spoon the saute into a bowl and finish with a shower of chopped fresh herbs.
Leave a Comment
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!
I’m fortunate to have a compost bin so my produce scraps return to the earth and I feel no guilt…
But, to turn these bits into another delicious meal is even better. Thank you.
(I had also thought of freezing the “scraps” and, eventually, turning the collection into a creamy [yogurt] blended soup.)
Your soup idea sounds excellent Carola…
Maureen, do you ever make koosa and eggs for breakfast. with onions tomato diced koosa and of course eggs love that for breakfast!!
Yes, delicious Laurie!
Hi Maureen, just want to share our Koosa cores with you! My Sitto and then my Mom, always sautéed them with onion or scallions in butter until browned. Then they added an egg or two and scrambled them together and served it always, with Lebanese flat bread. It is a favorite in my entire family! We’ll try your version without the eggs too! Thanks for sharing!
Mmmmmmm thank you Louise!
My aunt use to make fried koosa patties with the inside of koosa.I can’t find a recipe for it Do you happen to have one. The other with eggs(imfudikee) is delicious Thank you
Hi Lori–I’m intrigued that the patties you’re thinking of don’t contain eggs. I have not seen this but will keep an eye out in my research! Sounds wonderful.
My Mom always made what she called “Ishee” with the Koosa cores. She added eggs, flour, parsley and mint and mixed into a batter. Then coated the bottom of a frying pan with oil. She poured the batter in small pancake like shapes and fried until brown. We’d make sandwiches with syrian bread and a slice of tomato!
I’ve also just used the zucchini “guts” for zucchini bread or muffins. Being a good Lebanese girl, also love all your excellent ways to use this vegetable. Thank you for sharing.
Great idea for muffins or zucchini bread! No reason to waste the goodness of all aspects of the zucchini. Thank you!