Koosa in yogurt sauce is light green squash cored and filled, then poached in a rich, savory sauce of yogurt and mint. Kibbeh is also wonderful made this same way; find that recipe here. Get the finest koosa corer made here, at MaureenAboodMarket.com. Watch my video on koosa-making here.
When I think about my kitchen goals, my thinking naturally veers toward Sitto.
And when I say Sitto, or grandma, I mean that both specifically, thinking of my own grandmothers, but also generally, to the idea of grandmother, of Sitto.
Because pretty much everything I do now and have ever done in the way of my culinary/life journey is about becoming … more like them.
They grew up in an era of no waste; throwing food away simply was not done. So if a chicken was roasted, next day there was chicken stock simmering on the stove. If koosa was cored, the cores were given their own special treatment, usually with eggs.
Foods that could be made at home, were—but even when convenience was on offer, Sitto still made her own. Case in point: the yogurt, the laban. Making yogurt was a weekly or biweekly practice, ensuring that there was always starter to get a new batch going, and always yogurt and the thicker labneh in the refrigerator.
The batches of yogurt Sitto made were hefty, and the more I’ve cooked, the more I’ve realized why. Yogurt had many uses in a week of cooking and baking, not just to eat for its own wonderful sake or mixed with a bowl of cucumbers.
Yogurt was the basis, the sauce, for the most delectable soups and kibbeh and koosa.
I strive for the frequent yogurt-making, and Dan helps keep that on track as laban is one of the few things he actually asks about, wondering if I’d make another batch soon. We both know that the homemade has so much more flavor, more tang and complexity, than anything we can buy.
I strive as well to make good use of the yogurt in lots of ways—just not as frequently as a sauce, which is surprising to me because kibbeh or koosa cooked in yogurt is so divine, one of my favorites.
As with many recipes, when I bring them to life here for all of us to share, that dish takes on new life in my own kitchen. Frequency plays a big role of course; there is all of the recipe testing to perfect a dish for you–and with that frequency comes familiarity, so that the dish, as here with koosa cooked in yogurt, becomes more top-of-mind, and easier to execute for having done it many times.
That right there is one of the Sitto-secrets we want in on: the more we do cook, the more we will cook. And the more we want to cook, because it gets so much easier the more we do it.
Get your koosa (or zucchini or yellow squash; it’s all good), pull out your corer and a batch of yogurt (whether you made it or not), and know that the Sitto-secrets are yours for the taking.
Koosa in Yogurt Sauce
Koosa (or kousa, cousa, coosa) is a light green, smaller-sized Lebanese summer squash, also known as tatume here in Michigan at our Meijer grocery store. If you can't find koosa, use zucchini or yellow squash, both delicious. Just be sure to cut the neck low enough to create an opening large enough to insert corer. Use either a meat or vegetarian filling for the koosa. Watch my video on koosa-making here. Get an heirloom quality koosa corer here, at MaureenAboodMarket.com.
- 12 koosa squash
Trim the koosa by cutting the stem end off, and if your squash is bent at the neck, cut below the bend. Shave off the dark point at the other end of the koosa.
Insert the corer in ¾ of the length of the squash and twist. Pull out the core. Do this a few times, scraping against the edge of the squash with gentle pressure until the squash is hollowed, leaving about 1/4-inch of koosa all the way around and taking care not to puncture the squash. If you do puncture a squash, it’s still useable. Just serve that one, the ugly duckling, to yourself and no one will know....
Fill each koosa with the stuffing, making sure the entire koosa is filled, but not packing the filling in too tightly. Fill only to about 1/4- to 1/2-inch depth at the opening of the koosa, leaving room for the filling to expand without pushing out of the koosa. You may have leftover meat stuffing that you can form into meatballs to be cooked with the koosa.
In a medium saucepan, par-cook the koosa (this is to avoid over-cooking the yogurt sauce by reducing the cook-time in the yogurt). Cover the koosa with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
In another large heavy saucepan, begin to warm the laban over medium heat. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the yogurt, along with the crushed dried mint, and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt as needed.
Carefully transfer the par-cooked koosa from the poaching water to the pot of yogurt sauce, using a big slotted spoon (to leave behind as much water as possible).
Simmer the koosa in the yogurt for another 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
Serve the koosa immediately in bowls with yogurt sauce ladled over them, and finished with another dusting of dried mint salt.