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Harissa Carrots and Fennel with Lentils

Harissa is a north African chili pepper paste traditionally added to meat and fish stews, and to spice up couscous, but I think it’s delish with all the things, especially winter veg that could use a major flavour injection. If you have not made your own harissa before, it’s a relatively quick and painless process that can give your food a serious wake-up. It is bright, bold, spicy, smoky and just plain yummmm. It keeps well in the fridge and a delightful thing to have on hand when you’re not really sure what to do with that pumpkin (slather it in harissa and roast it!) or that tempeh (marinate it in harissa and fry it!) or that kale (dress it in harissa and stuff your face!). If you can’t wait another second to make this dish, you can also buy pre-made harissa paste at ethnic grocers and gourmet markets. It’s sold in small tins, tubes, or jars – just look for versions without any preservatives or unpronounce-ables (but it goes without saying that the homemade kind is best, obvi).

You can really use any kind of chili to make harissa, and I suggest a variety to achieve a deep and complex flavour. Some of the ones I chose (based solely on the fact that I already had them in my pantry) were smoked whole ñoras peppers, guajillo, and bird’s eye for some serious heat. Chipotle would be very tasty (it’s a good idea to have at least one smoked pepper variety), or de arbol, jalepeno, ancho…you get the idea. You can also make harissa with crushed chili flakes if that is all you have, just make sure that you balance it out with perhaps more tomato paste and roasted bell peppers. I believe that you should be able to eat a small spoonful of pure harissa without blowing your head off. You’re after something spicy, but also rich and savoury, so strike that balance as you’re choosing the ingredients.

Learn more about chilies and this recipe on the blog!

Roasted Carrot and Fennel with Harissa, Black Lentils and Yogurt


  • 1 pound / 500g carrots
  • 1 pound / 500g fennel about 2 medium bulbs
  • 2 medium red onions
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
  • a couple pinches salt and pepper
  • 1 cup / 250ml Greek-style yogurt preferably goat or sheep
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup / 225g black lentils Du Puy or French lentils would also work, soaked if possible
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
  • a handful of mint leaves roughly chopped
  • flaky sea salt to garnish

Harissa Dressing

  • ¼ cup cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1-4 tsp. harissa paste to your taste (I used 3 tsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ Tbsp. maple syrup
  • pinch sea salt to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C. Scrub carrots well and slice them in half lengthwise (if they are relatively large, slice them in quarters lengthwise). Wash fennel and slice lengthwise into thin sections. Peel and slice red onion into eights. Place carrots on a baking sheet and rub with a little coconut oil. Place fennel and red onion on a separate baking sheet and rub with a little coconut oil. Place in the oven to roast for 25-35 minutes until tender and charred around the edges (the fennel and onions may take longer than the carrots, so remove carrots first if necessary). Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper.
  • While the vegetables are roasting, cook the lentils. Wash lentils well, drain and rinse until water runs clear. Place in medium saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. Add about a half teaspoon of salt, stir and continue to simmer covered, until the lentils are tender, about 5 more minutes. Drain and rinse. Stir in olive oil and season to taste.
  • While the lentils are cooking, whisk the dressing ingredients together. Start with a teaspoon of harissa paste and add more to suit your taste. The dressing should be spicy, but palatable. Add the roasted vegetables and fold to coat well.
  • Combine the lemon zest and yogurt.
  • To assemble, divide the yogurt and lentils among four plates. Pile the vegetables on top, sprinkle with flaky salt, mint, and drizzle any remaining dressing over the top. Enjoy.


Serves 4

Harissa Paste


  • 25 g dried chilies of your choice choose a few types and include one smoked and one spicy variety, if possible
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 6 oz / 170g can tomato paste 1 small can
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • a couple pinches sea salt
  • cold-pressed olive oil to cover


  • Soak the dried chilies in just-boiled water for about 30 minutes until softened. Remove stems and seeds (wear gloves if you’re handling really spicy ones). Save soaking liquid.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Rub the bell peppers with a little coconut oil and place on a line baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes until blistered and turning black in spots. Remove from oven and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool for 15 minutes (this process will help steam the peppers making them really easy to peel). Once cool enough to handle, simply slip the skins off of the peppers, remove the stem and seeds, and the discard them. Put flesh aside.
  • While the peppers are roasting, toast the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder and grind until powder-y.
  • Peel garlic and place in the food processor. Pulse to mince. Add the soaked dried chilies, roasted red peppers, ground spices, tomato paste, lemon juice, and salt. Blend on high until relatively smooth (add some of the chilli soaking liquid to thin, if desired). Season with salt to taste and add more lemon juice if desired.
  • Transfer harissa to a clean glass jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil – this will help prevent it from spoiling. Cover with a tightly-sealed lid and store in the fridge for up to one month.


Makes about 1 ¼ cup / 300ml