Kousa (Lebanese Stuffed Zucchini)

2 lbs zucchini, even sized

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon clarified butter or 1 tablespoon oil or 1 tablespoon plain butter
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
8 ounces ground beef or lamb (or a combination)
1/4 cup short-grain rice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

To finish
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup clarified butter or 1/2 cup regular butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup peeled tomato, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Choose either medium or small zucchini. Wash well cut of stem end. Using a corer hollow out zucchini leaving rounded end intact. Try not to puncture the skin. Soak in salted water for 10 minutes.

Gently fry onion in butter until transparent. Add pine nuts after 10 minutes cook with onions for another 10 minutes, stir occasionally.

Add pan contents to ground meat, rice parsley, spice and about a teaspoon of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of water if need to be easy to work with. Fill zucchini with stuffing. (The rice expands and the meat will shrink so fill them all the way).

Prepare the sauce: in a frying pan gently fry chopped onion in butter. When transparent add chopped garlic cook for a few seconds and chopped peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, water and cinnamon with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle some of the sauce into the bottom of a heavy based pan, arrange zucchini in layers adding sauce to each layer, you may have 2-3 layers of zucchini.

Add enough water to just cover the zucchini with sauce, you may or may not need to do this depending on how much sauce you have.

Cover and simmer gently for 1 1/4 hours or until veggies are tender and rice is cooked.
Serve hot or warm with sauce and Arabic pita bread for dipping.

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