Vegetarian Kufteh

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Main Ingredient: Vegetables
Menu Part: Appetizer
Cuisine Type: Asian
Serves: 6 servings

Chef Hoss Zaré, of Zaré at the Fly Trap in San Francisco, Calif., has given the traditional recipe for kufteh —stuffed meatballs—a vegetarian makeover, replacing meat with bulgur wheat and beans and stuffing the “vegeballs” with mushrooms, garlic, and barberries. This Middle Eastern favorite, perfect for sharing with family and friends, is served with avocado salsa and seven spice emulsion, illustrating Chef Zare’s specialty—blending modern Persian cuisine with other regional specialties.



1 cup bulgur wheat
16 oz. vegetable or mushroom stock
1 cup dried lima, fava, or adzuki beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 egg, beaten
1 cup or more breadcrumbs
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp. harissa
1 Tbsp. oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying
½ cup sautéed wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, and/or barberries
Avocado Salsa
6 fresh California Avocados, peeled and pitted
½ cup tomato, diced
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup lemon or lime juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. harissa
Salt and pepper, to taste
Seven Spice Emulsion:
16 oz. white wine
16 oz. verjus
4 medium carrots, peeled and rough cut
4 oz. butter
1 tsp. seven spice
Salt and pepper, to taste


Vegetable Kufteh:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add beans and boil gently until tender, 40-50 min. Rinse and set aside.

2. Bring the vegetable/mushroom stock to a boil. Add the bulgur wheat and reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 20 min. or until the liquid has been absorbed and the bulgur wheat is fluffy. Set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic fragrant, but not browned. Add the cumin and coriander and cook for another min. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.

4. Combine the cooked beans, bulgur wheat, onion mixture and the beaten egg. Mix in the breadcrumbs, adding more if needed to make the mixture semi-firm. Mix in the cilantro, harrisa and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour to firm.

5. Using wet hands, portion out 5 oz. portions and roll each into a ball and place on a cookie sheet. Stuff the “vegiballs” with a tablespoon of the mushrooms, garlic, and/or barberries.

6. Heat the vegetable oil to 350° F.  Fry the “vegiballs” for about 2 min until browned. Place on a cookie sheet and into a 350° F oven for about 5 min or until heated through.

Avocado Salsa:
1.    Mash the avocado, leaving some large chunks. Mix in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Seven Spice Emulsion:
1.    Bring the wine and verjus to a simmer. Add carrots and cook until very soft. Add the seven spice. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add butter, puree to blend.

To Assemble:
1.    Spread about 1/3 cup of the Seven Spice Emulsion onto each plate. Top with one and a half of the Vegetable Kufteh. Place a large scoop (about 2/3 cup) of the Avocado Salsa onto each plate. Top each scoop of the Avocado Salsa garnished with the feta cheese and cured olives. Serve.

Recipe by Chef Hoss Zaré, Zaré at the Fly Trap, San Francisco, Calif.