King of Stuffed Vegetables; Mukhshe
Updated: Jun 19
Sheikh el Mahshi. In Arabic the word shiekh could refer to many things among them is leader, chief, old, or an expert of sort. So I am guessing this recipe is called sheikh al mahshi due to the fact that the squash is stuffed with a luxurious mixture of spiced meat and pine nuts compared to the traditional filling of rice and meat. I also think it tastes so delicious crowning itself as the chief of all stuffed vegetables.
This dish is consumed in the Levant with so many different names and variations. My family calls it Mukhshe, or Shaikh El Mahshi. Mukhshe comes from the word "Mahshi" which is the process of stuffing zucchinis or vegetables. Although my recipe uses squash but small eggplants are often used as well. In some variations. the stuffed squash is cooked with yogurt or tomatoes sauce. But I cooked it exactly how my grandmother and mother make it a process thats called “على آدامه" which means cooked in
It’s own broth or fat. No matter how it is prepared and whether you use eggplants or squash, yogurt, tomatoes sauce or it’s own broth I assure you that this recipe is delicious and easy to prepare.
King of stuffed vegetables: Mukhshe
شيخ المحشي أو مخشي
One pound of ground meat (I used turkey) it’s often done with beef or lamb
1 onion chopped
Salt, Black Pepper
2 tsp Allspice
Few grates of fresh Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cardamom
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbls Pine Nuts
3 pounds of Mexican squash (about 10-12 small zucchini or Mexican squash 4-5 inches in height and 1 inch wide)
3 tbls Olive oil divided
Juice of one Lemon
1-2 cups Chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic minced
Preheat the oven to 425
Make sure you rinse your zucchini well. Cut off the stem and the bottom.
Drizzle 1 tbls of olive oil all over the zucchini, add a pinch of salt and place them in a baking sheet and put them in the oven to blister the skin and soften the flesh. Toss the zucchini’s half way through the cooking process so they cook evenly.
Cook for 30-40 minutes until charred and slightly softened.
In the meantime let’s make the stuffing:
sauté the onions In 2 tbls of olive oil until translucent 5-8 minutes
Add the minced meat and break it apart with the back of your wooden spoon.
Add the spices and cook until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Add the pine nuts and toss to combine
Take the squash out of the oven and let them cool a bit.
With a pairing knife cut a slit in the middle of each squash be careful not to cut through the entire flesh we are just creating a pocket for the meat stuffing.
Fill each of the squash with a generous 1-2 tbls of the meat mixture. Use your fingers to gently push the meat into the cavity of the squash.
You might be left with some meat mixture. I have few ideas on what to do with that!
Since this dish is often eaten with rice you can add your cooked meat mixture to the rice making ruz hashweh to serve next to the stuffed squash.
Top the squash with the remaining meat mixture some will fall to the bottom of the baking dish snd that’s ok.
Freeze the extra mixture to use in other recipes. The filling makes a delicios filling for tacos, stuffed between two pita pockets with some cheese or scrambled with eggs.
Place the stuffed squash in a baking dish add 1-2 cups of the chicken broth to the bottom of the dish along with the bay leaf and sliced garlic. The broth shouldnt cover the squash just enough to cover the bottom of the dish.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until everything is warmed through and the sauce thickens slightly.
Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
This dish is often served with vermicelli rice and a dollop of plain yogurt.