Linda Dalal Sawaya, Memories of a Lebanese Garden, Saudi Aramco World, January/February 1997.

This was one of my favorite dishes, perhaps because I was allowed to help Sitto stuff the light green Lebanese squash harvested from our garden. Sitto would even let me try to core it using one of the corers my mother had made from brass tubing. This was tricky for a 10-year-old, because it was easy to cut through the side or the bottom of the squash. Lebanese squash wasn't available in the grocery, so if we weren't raising any that year our Lebanese friends, the McKannas, would share their crop with us. Several US seed companies now sell Lebanese zucchini, but small yellow crooknecks or dark green zucchini can also be used. To find a half-inch diameter corer, try a Middle Eastern import store; you can make do with an apple-corer.

1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 whole allspice berries, ground, or 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 cups lamb, finely chopped or coarsely ground
1 cup tomato sauce, divided
A few lamb ribs for the pot
10 small green or yellow squash
1 clove of garlic
16-oz. can of whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tbs. lemon juice
4 whole peppercorns
3 ½ c. water

Wash and drain rice and place in a bowl. Mix in seasonings, the smaller quantity of lemon juice, the lamb and half the tomato sauce. Parboil the lamb ribs, rinse them, arrange them in the bottom of a deep pot and set aside. Cut off the tops of the squash and core them carefully: Gently insert a corer and remove the first inch and a half of the core by rotating the corer clockwise with your right hand and the squash counterclockwise with your left. As you turn, the marrow will be extruded. Ideally, there will be an 1/2-inch thickness of squash around the hollow core. Save the seedy center for other dishes. Rinse each cored squash in a bowl of salted water flavored with a clove of garlic. Drain, then fill gently, being careful not to crack the shell, to about one-half inch from the top. Arrange stuffed squash upright in pot over the lamb ribs. Pour in the remaining tomato sauce, the chopped tomatoes with their juice, the additional lemon juice, peppercorns and the water. Cover and heat on high until boiling, then simmer approximately one hour until rice is done, squash is tender and sauce is thick. Serve with Arab bread, carrot sticks, celery, cucumbers, romaine lettuce and other cut vegetables.

Linda Dalal Sawaya