Arabic Kousa (Zucchini) and Bulgur Pilaf (Vegan)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A simple 6-ingredient, 30-minute bulgur pilaf with Arabic zucchini and fragrant tomato sauce.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 2-3 people
  • ¾ cup bulgur wheat (coarse)
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5 small kousa (Mexican gray squash, or use small regular zucchini)
  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cup water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided*
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, chopped (optional)
  1. Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and then chop into small half-rounds. Sauté in 1.5 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with ½ tsp salt.* Cook until lightly browned, yet still crunchy, about 5 minutes, and set aside.
  2. Sauté diced onions in 1.5 tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium high heat until browned, about 5 minutes.** Add minced garlic, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes, and stir to combine. Rinse and drain bulgur and add it to the pot along with the water. Bring the bulgur, water, and tomato mixture to a boil, add remaining salt, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until bulgur is soft and has absorbed the liquid.
  3. Stir sautéed zucchini, black pepper, and half of the parsley into the pilaf. Remove from heat after about 2 minutes. Serve immediately topped with extra fresh parsley.
*For oil free method, sauté the squash with salt in a non-stick pan for a couple mins, until water is drawn out and squash is lightly browned.
**For oil free method, sauté the onions in 2 tbsp water instead, until soft and translucent.
Recipe by Zen and Zaatar at