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My aunt Miriam in Israel makes mahshi cousa (stuffed zucchini) using giant zucchinis cut into 4 inch sections. She serves them as a first course on Shabbat dinner. My father makes them as well, though he uses smaller zucchini's cut into about 2 inch sections and cored all the way through. He cooks them standing up (cut side down) as does my aunt, rather than on the side as with this recipe. There are also variations on the spices - consider adding cumin to the mixture, or sugar to the sauce. Mahshi can also be made using eggplant - start with very small eggplants, cored and prepared according to this recipe. If serving as an entree, then the number of servings is closer to eight (assuming 1 and 1/2 per person) than if serving as a first course.

Serves: 8-12

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Sephardic Meat Entree

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1 cup uncooked rice
1/2 lb. ground lamb or beef
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. allspice
12 medium zucchini (or eggplant)

For the sauce:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbl. vegetable oil
1 can (28-oz.) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cinnamon


  1. Mix the rice, ground lamb (or beef), salt, pepper, and allspice by hand.
  2. Trim the ends of each zucchini and cut in half. Carefully core each zucchini half. Be careful not to core all the way through to the other end (though I've seen it done that way as well) and leave the walls no less than 1/8 inch thick. Discard the pulp.
  3. Carefully stuff the zucchinis with the lamb and rice mixture, leaving about an inch at the end. The mixture will expand as it cooks to fill the unused space.
  4. Prepare the sauce by sauteing the garlic in olive oil for about 2-3 minutes, then add tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini to the tomato sauce and add water, as required, to cover.
  6. Simmer for 50 minutes, covered. Zucchini should be soft and tender.
  7. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes to thicken the tomato sauce.
  8. Serve hot.

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