Cumin & Safflower Petal-Infused Stuffed Squash or ‘Koosa Mihshee’

Koosa Mihshee is a classic dish that most middle-eastern children remember as part of their childhood. It carries on through many generations, and is a staple in the Arabic household. Mexican zucchini, summer squash, and sweet mini peppers are stuffed with a classic Arabic mixture containing cumin, safflower petals, ground beef & rice and simmered to perfection in a tomato, mint, and pomegranate molasses broth. You’ll be sure to impress any guest when you present them with this elegant labor of love.

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Prep & Cook Time: 1.5 hours
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Broth
12 cups water
1.5 tablespoons salt
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
6 ounces no-salt added BPA-free tomato paste 
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons dried mint

Squash & Peppers
12 medium-sized Mexican zucchini and/or summer squash
sweet mini peppers
zucchini corer

Filling
1 pound 90/10 grass-fed ground sirloin
¾ cup jasmine rice, washed and rinsed with hot water
¾ cup short-grain brown rice, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon crushed safflower petals or asfur (عصفر)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup water

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Directions:

1. Place 12 cups of water to over high eat in a large, deep pot. Once water boils, add salt, pomegranate molasses, lemon, and tomato paste. Lower heat to medium-low or low and continue to simmer uncovered while you proceed to the next steps.

2. In a large bowl, add drained rice along with salt, pepper, cumin seeds, ground cumin, safflower petals (عصفر), oil, and water. Mix with either a spoon (or the best tool, your hands) until well combined, taking care not to break up the grains of rice.

3. Once rice mixture is well combined, add ground beef and continue to mix gently until well incorporated and combined.

4. Core out the insides of the zucchini squash with a zucchini corer, taking note to keep a bit of meat on the squashes.

5. Cut off the top of the peppers, and gently remove the seeds. No need to core these guys!

6. Once zucchini squashes are cored and peppers are de-seeded, begin to stuff each with the meat mixture.

7. Add the squash one by one to the simmering broth mixture, and increase heat to high. Once broth begins to boil, reduce heat to medium & add the peppers. Cover pot.

8. After approximately 35 minutes, take one squash out, cut a piece off and taste for readiness. You want to ensure the rice is cooked through while maintaining a crisp squash (overcooked squash is not what you want after all this hard work)! If the rice is not cooked through, continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on doneness.

9. Once squashes and peppers are cooked, add crushed garlic and dried mint. Increase heat to medium-high and allow to boil for 3-4 minutes.

10. If not serving immediately, remove the squash and peppers from the broth mixture so it does not overcook. Prior to serving, add stuffed squashes/peppers and reheat on high for 3 minutes.

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And sahtein–or deux healths!

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