Monday, October 20, 2008

Zucchini Kofte with Beet-Bulghur Pilaf

There are a bunch of women in my office who cook amazing dishes....going into the lunchroom on any given weekday is like reaching into a culinary treasure chest. There's one woman that grows her own vegetables and herbs and belongs to a cooking club where she and six of her friends cook food on Sunday and then exchange the leftovers so that everyone has a new dish to bring for lunch each day. And then there's another woman who experiments with healthy vegetarian fare, like this Zucchini Köfte with Beet-Bulgur Pilaf that everyone was raving about. I didn't actually see it on the day she brought it in, but I saw the recipe printed out at the copier and I snatched it up. Turns out everyone wanted the recipe, and for good reason. This was a delicious find, definitely a keeper. The recipe is originally from the October 2008 Gourmet magazine, I adapted it a bit. The original recipe made way too much bulghur pilaf for the kofte balls it yielded. So unless you want a ton of bulghur pilaf left over (not such a bad idea because it's so yummy!), I would halve the recipe for the bulghur.

Zucchini Köfte (Mediterranean vegetarian meatballs)

1 pound zucchini (3 medium)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup panko
About 4 cups vegetable oil for frying

Beet-Bulghur Pilaf

1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/4 cups bulgur
1 pound medium beets with greens, beets peeled and diced (1/4 inch), stems discarded, and greens coarsely chopped
4 cups water
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Yogurt sauce

1 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek)
1 teaspooon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Make köfte by coarsely grate zucchini in a food processor fitted with the medium shredding disk. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt in a colander. Let stand 10 minutes.
Pulse garlic, parsley, and cilantro in food processor until finely chopped.
Wrap zucchini in a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and twist to wring out as much liquid as possible. Mash chickpeas with a fork, then toss with zucchini, garlic mixture, spices, bread crumbs, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Roll 2-tablespoons portions into balls and chill köfte in a 4-sided sheet pan while making bulghur.

Make bulghur by cooking onion and garlic in oil in a deep 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in bulghur, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 4 minutes. Stir in beets (but not greens) and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and beets are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in greens and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute. Fluff bulghur with a fork, then sprinkle with almonds.

Fry köfte balls by heating 1 inch of oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry köfte in 2 batches, turning once, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

To make the yogurt sauce, stir together yogurt, garlic, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Serve warm köfte and bulghur with sauce.

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