This recipe originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.

For our November 2018 “Feast Around the World” feature, we asked five of the state’s top chefs to create festive meals to serve this season. What we got was a cornucopia of global flavors. 

For her sophisticated feast, Denise Shavandy, the executive chef at Café Modern—the restaurant at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth—was inspired by the Persian and Turkish dishes expertly prepared by her mother-in-law. Below, find one of two side dishes for Shavandy’s “East Meets West” menu.

Minted Zucchini Bulgur Pilaf

Crumbled goat-milk feta adds a nice final touch to this side dish in chef Denise Shavandy’s “East Meets West” feast.


  • 4 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 leeks, white parts, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and diced (in the winter, canned tomatoes may be your best option)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat, preferably coarse
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped (reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
  • ½ cup goat-milk feta


  • Sauté zucchini in 1½ tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until it begins to brown but is still firm, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepot, sauté onion and leeks in remaining olive oil over medium heat until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute before adding tomato paste and tomatoes.
  • Add 2 cups water and salt to the onion mixture, increase heat, and bring to a slow boil. Stir in the bulgur, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until bulgur is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, another 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in zucchini and chopped mint and parsley.
  • To serve, put in a large bowl and top with goat-milk feta, crumbled, and whole mint and parsley leaves.