(Recipe) Harissa Carrots and Fennel with Lentils

harissa recipe



Harissa Carrots and Fennel with Lentils

I love this kind of dish from a construction standpoint. The first bites deliver the big bold flavours of the roasted veg dripping in smoky sauce alone, and then as you begin to go further and dig around, everything kind of melds together, creating mouthfuls with a little bit of this, a little bit of that. The lentils start hanging out with the lemon-spiked yogurt giving the smooth consistency some tooth and texture, which the veggies then become coated in. The harissa drippings work their way into all the nooks and crannies, and the mint pokes you every so often with a “hello, my name is FRESH!” It hits all the texture notes, the flavour notes, and you’re left feeling, well, really satisfied. Not to mention, full.

This dish is totally vegan aside from the yogurt, which could even be replaced with a cashew yogurt, like the one in my cookbook, or another plant-based one. You can even leave it out all together if you like, but it’s a great team player with the other elements. The lentils could easily be replaced by the beans of your choice, and the veg you can change up according to what you have available. You can even make the harissa dressing for any manner of green salad and serve it over raw things too. This dish would also be really tasty with some toasted nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.

Recipe from mynewroots.org

Harissa Carrots and Fennel with Lentils

Makes about 1 ¼ cup / 300ml

harissa recipe


For the paste:

  • 25g dried chilies of your choice (choose a few types and include one smoked and one spicy variety, if possible)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 6oz / 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


For the roasted Carrot and Fennel with Harissa, Black Lentils and Yoghurt

  • 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


Instructions for the Paste

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Instructions for the Roasted Carrot and Fennel with Harissa, Black Lentils and Yogurt and dressing

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Combine the lemon zest and yogurt.
  5. 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.

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