Zare's Healthy Couscous Salad

January 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Get the New Year off to a great start in the kitchen with a light, refreshing and healthy cous cous salad from Chef Hoss Zare of Zare at Fly Trap.

Recipe: Sumac cous cous salad with lemon vinaigrette
Serves 4

For sumac cous cous salad:


  • 2 c cous cous
  • 4 c water
  • 1/4 c harissa
  • 1/4 c minced Italian parsley
  • 1/4 c minced cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. fresh Dungeness crab meat
  • 2 T sumac
  • 1/2 c diced sweet peppers
  • 1 t serrano chili
  • 1 large tomato, blanched, seeded and julienned
  • 1 c watercress


First prepare cous cous by placing in a large bowl. In a saucepot, add water, harissa, herbs, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Add spiced, boiling water to cous cous and cover with saran wrap or a lid for 20 minutes. Use 2 forks to fluff cous cous.

Toss crab, sumac, peppers, chili, cous cous and ½ c lemon vinaigrette in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate large bowl, toss watercress and tomato with another ½ c vinaigrette and season to taste.

Place 1/2 c cous cous in the center of four salad plates. Mound ¼ watercress salad mixture on top of each cous cous portion. Serve immediately.

For lemon vinaigrette:


  • 1/2 c lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 2 c olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place lemon juice, garlic, shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Add olive oil in a steady stream while whisking to emulsify vinaigrette. Finish seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.

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About Hoss Zaré:
Born in Tabriz, Azerbaijan, Hoss Zaré immigrated to the United States in 1986 and landed in San Francisco to join his older brother who had moved to the city a decade earlier. Almost immediately, Zaré began cooking to pay the bills while working his way through pre-medical coursework at University of California at Davis.

By 1989, Zaré was faced with the reality that work in the kitchen had become an essential creative outlet. He decided to continue cooking at The Fly Trap in San Francisco, where he met Craig Thomas, former Executive Chef of Ernie's on Jackson Square. As Thomas' sous chef, Zaré was encouraged to add his own perspective to the art of fine dining. After about a year, he was primed to take over the helm and ran the kitchen at The Fly Trap to rave reviews until 1992.

As a self-trained chef with a solid grasp of traditional French and American cuisine, Zaré decided to expand his culinary knowledge at South Park's Ristorante Ecco. He found the restaurant's Italian style of cuisine to align with his own background and perspective. Within a year, he took over the stove at Ecco, where again he garnered rave reviews.

Next up for Zaré was Aromi, a popular Italian spot on Polk St. Zaré took over the restaurant, infused it with his style and began to gain the recognition necessary to go out on his own. In 1996, Zaré did just that on Sacramento St. with his first restaurant, Zaré.

Thanks to his over-the-top sense of hospitality and unique style of Mediterranean cuisine, Zaré built a devoutly loyal following at his Pacific Heights location. Things were going so well that, in 1999, he reclaimed Aromi, a space that was very close to his heart, and reincarnated the restaurant as Bistro Zaré. The new Bistro became an overnight success story.

After years building a name for himself within the city walls, Zaré's passion for wine and the Slow Food movement lured him to relocate to Napa. In 2005, he launched Zaré Napa featuring a Mediterranean-inspired wine country menu focused on community-provided produce.

Zaré spent two beautiful years honing his restaurant's private garden and building a great appreciation for the abundance of wine country. Yet as time went on, he began to crave the energy of the city and his family in San Francisco. He set his sights on returning to the place that so warmly embraced him when he first arrived in the U.S.

In 2008, Zaré returned to reopen The Fly Trap in SoMa. Zaré is delighted to call San Francisco home again. At Zaré at Fly Trap, he entertains all week long with food and beverage programs created by the best Bay Area talents in an extraordinary space that pays tribute to the history of San Francisco.