The meat and rice stuffing mixture for this recipe is a standard stuffing that is also used for cabbage rolls and grape leaf rolls. I like touse ground beef for this dish, but you can also use ground lamb. If you have the patience to let the koosa rest, after its been cooked, for a day in the refrigerator before eating it, you’ll find the flavors develop wonderfully. Serve the koosa topped with labneh (thickened yogurt) and thin pita bread or Lebanese flatbread. See how to core the koosa here.
Use your clean hands (come on, it feels nice) to combine the meat, rice, salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Loosely fill each squash with the stuffing. Loosely is the key word here, because the rice does not liketo be crowded. It needs room to expand, so fill only about ¾ of the coosa withstuffing, and don’t pack it in. You may have leftover stuffing that you can form into meatballs to be cooked with the koosa.
In a bowl, season the tomato puree o rsauce with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Place the koosa (stuffed end up but tilted so that you don’t need as much liquid to cover them) in a tall pot with the garlic cloves interspersed and the meatballs on top.
Pour the tomato puree over all. Pour water over that until the koosa and meatballs are just covered (some can stick out a bit above the liquid). Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender and the meat is cooked through, about 50 minutes.
Remove the koosa to a serving bowl and taste the sauce. Adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper as needed. Serve the koosa in individual bowls or on plates with the sauce spooned over it. You can also make a cut down one side of the koosa with the side of a spoon and ladle the sauce over that, to whet the whistle of the stuffing.