Bulgur pilaf with zucchini and green beans(Madfoonet bel koossa)

July 25, 2010  •  Category:


I left the house today at 2PM; I knew that Elie, owner of the  internet café closes shop  till 5PM due to lunch and siesta. I got in the car and drove the winding mountain roads, hoping for a lit internet sign somewhere.

I am now sitting in a restaurant in a village in the Chouf; eating a grilled  kafta plate and drinking Almaza beer;  the only other customer is a Frenchman, sitting across from me with his laptop; I can hear him speaking audibly in French on his cellphone; he seems to have a bit of an attitude; on his table all the Lebanese goodies: a bottle of arak, an array of mezze plates;  the waiter told me apologetically that he  had no clue how to connect to their network; so I had to ask the French man.

The restaurant is large with a canopied terrace, overlooks the valley  and the food is freshly grilled on charcoal.  The waiter is so sweet  and attentive. When it comes time to pay, he refuses payment  in the typical gracious mountain fashion, repeats ” It is on us”, until he finally agrees to bring me the bill.

Last night, we had  a get-together  with more second and third cousins;  picked up some goodies at Souk el-Tayeb.

I grabbed a dozen spinach fatayers (turnovers) at Georgina‘s stand  and was tempted by a dish called madfoonet (meaning buried) al-koossa or zucchini; it is a moist pilaf of bulgur with onions and tomatoes with  chunks of zucchini and green beans “buried” in it.

Georgina, a warm and effusive lady, told me about her village in Northern Lebanon, the stream nearby, their olive groves and the  upcoming  fall season: their olive oil will be extracted in the  ancient stone press. Told her I would not miss a chance to see this; anyone interested? (it will be in October)


  • 1 cup of coarse bulgur
  • 1 cup of water (or broth)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup of zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup of green beans, cut in one-inch sticks
  • olive oil, as needed


  1. Heat some olive oil and fry the onions for a while; add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have given up some juice.
  2. Meanwhile, soak the bulgur for 15 minutes and then drain well. Add the bulgur to the skillet, coating the grains with oil and juice for a few minutes.
  3. Add the zucchini and green beans, previously blanched or steamed and  the water; cook the mixture, covered, adding some salt and pepper and a dash of cinnamon and allspice, until the bulgur is cooked well and soft. Serve hot, lukewarm or cold.


30 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Ann Hamze says:

    I always enjoy your travels and recipes. I would appreciate it if you would tag your scenic photos so I might know where they are taken. For example what is the name of the village in the last snapshot on today’s blog?

    • Joumana says:

      @Ann: these photos are taken in the Chouf area; I live in the village of Deir el-Qamar and the last snapshot is a village near the Beit Eddine palace; probably Maasser el-Chouf.

  2. Angie's Recipes says:

    Adore the bulgur…sounds really wonderful to mix with zucchini…

  3. Rosa says:

    A healthy and delicious pilaf!



  4. elra says:

    delicious pilaf using bulgur and zucchinis. Seeing your photos is always pleasing and make me hungry as well.

  5. SYLVIA says:

    This is a wonderful side dish, and simple to make, it’s nice and light with a lot of texture, I like how the veggies in the bulgur form a foundation, a sure vegetarian pleaser.
    Excellent Joumana.

  6. Barbara says:

    I love traveling with you Joumana. Your photos and stories are always fascinating. I am so impressed you go to so much trouble to stay connected to all of us! I’m going away in August for a couple weeks and have no intention of even taking my computer. (Although my daughter will have hers….still, I am determined NOT to use it!)

    I hope you’ll be there to cover the olive oil extraction. Would love to see photos.

    And a great pilaf! Never have made one with veggies.

  7. Lyndsey says:

    I too enjoy hearing your stories, and this bulgur pilaf looks fabulous! I have some bulur left after making your tabouleh recipe!

  8. deana says:

    I feel healthier just reading it. Bulgur is one of those things I forget about till summer when I load it with tomatoes and parsley… now beans!

  9. Astra Libris says:

    Ah, your photos transport me, blissfully, especially when paired with your beautiful writing! Thank you…

    This pilaf looks so colorful, delicious, and nutritious!

  10. Velva says:

    I love taking this kind of journey. I love the way you tell the story, casual and relaxed.

    The bulgar and pilaf looks delicious.

    Keep us posted.

  11. Katie @Cozydelicious says:

    This looks so healthy and tasty – and easy! A perfect quick meal. And the olive oil extraction sounds so exciting! I hope you can go!

  12. Christine @ Fresh says:

    What a wonderful place to dine! I’m a firm believer that service impacts the flavor of the food at any restaurant.

    The bulgar pilaf looks delicious! and watching the olives get pressed would be an amazing treat.

  13. Pauline says:

    Good idea – I have the first of those summer vegetables in the garden and may use broad beans as well as or instead of the green beans.
    It’s useful to know your customs like having to insist on paying – I would have taken the waiter at his word!

  14. grace says:

    i don’t think i’ve ever had an eatery offer to serve me on the house–wow! meanwhile, this is an interesting and really appealing use for green beans–it looks quite tasty!

  15. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Wonderful recipe, and I’d love to see the olive pressing in October. Probably not this year, but maybe in the future. Btw, I just had my warm lemon water. If you do try it, let me know your thoughts. It’s intense, but really not so bad. And the vinegar can be left out.

  16. FOODESSA says:

    Joumana…you left us kind of hanging…the Frenchman…did he soften his attitude once you approached him? Yes, call me curious 😉

    Bulgar…I love it because not only is it very quick to cook…it’s also tasty and nutritional…win win. Great pilaf dish.

    You mentioned October…wow…you are going to be gone for a while…at least you’re enjoying blogging while traveling…good for you because…I, like Barbara, would leave most behind except for my camera and a good ole fashioned pen and paper ;o)

    Ciao for now,

    • Joumana says:

      @Claudia: you are such a “fine mouche” (clever little thing!); there is more to the story, but I hesitate to print it. I will tell you in person someday! 🙂

  17. Doc says:

    Store bought Fig Newtons never again. I read today’s post but comments missing. I want to see and hear all about the olive pressing, sounds spectacular!! You are doing an amazing job with the food/travel blog; I feel like I’m there; except when I read about your adventures I get hungry and I can’t get a plate of what you’re showing! Travel channel needs you!!

  18. Susan says:

    Be careful on those steep, curvy roads, Joumana! Here is see another wonderful use for my zucchini crop – how delicious.

  19. Juliana says:

    Beautiful pictures…and the pilaf sure looks yummie and healthy 🙂

  20. Azita says:

    I just love reading your travel stories, Joumana. This is a simple, healthy and delicious recipe. Beautiful photos. Thanks.

  21. peter says:

    I think bulgur salads are the perfect summer fare…little, no cooking and very filling, healthy, tres delicieuses.

  22. Sophie says:

    A tasty bulghur zucchini recipe is this!!

    MMMMMMMMMMM,…what’s not to loooovvvvvveeeee????

    Kisses from Brussels!

  23. Lentil Breakdown says:

    I would like to hear the story in November if you will be in Dallas! : )

  24. FOODESSA says:

    Joumana…how terrible of you to keep me in suspense.
    I guess I’ll let you have your secrets for now…well at least until you’re still on vacation ;o)

    Just so that you know…my memory is quite sharp when I want it to be…I’ll await the continuing saga with enthusiasm LOL

    Ciao bella ;o))

  25. lisa says:

    Hello! Just wanted to ask, at the photo I also see white beans (haricots lingot). Do wé also add them to the pilaf?
    Thank you!

  26. margo says:

    if you add some potatoes it taste better

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