May 18, 2014

Chickpea Harissa

Greetings lovely readers! We finally made it back to our mountains after a week long trek to Florida. It was wonderful to see my family, including my cousins whom I hadn’t seen in YEARS. That was the good part. The bad part? Well, whenever we travel for longer than a day or two, I make sure to have hotel accommodations that include a kitchenette, so we can still eat healthy. I booked a room in a cute motel (and old mom and pop sort of place) and was told there was a full-sized fridge. We arrived to find a teeny refrigerator with a freezer the size of a shoebox! And the cookware was old and aluminum! Oh, my. Not good at all. I had planned a menu and brought all kinds of food to prepare…

So my quest for healthy eating on our trip did not pan out. We tried our best to find nutrients in local restaurants. Such a challenge!! It’s easy enough to find salads and we did bring some of our own dressings, but it’s hard to be satisfied with iceberg lettuce, a couple of tomato wedges and a slice of cucumber. Finding cooked veggies and beans is another daunting task when eating out. EVERYTHING is loaded with salt and oil. Even when we ask for no salt, it still comes cooked with salt. Want some bean soup? Sorry, there’s pork in it… “for flavor, just a little.” Argh!
Our one saving grace was a little spot that we used to visit a lot called The Rawk Star Cafe that is all vegan and raw. If you’re ever in the Clearwater area be sure to check them out. The owners are the friendliest people you’ll ever meet and the food is fabulous!
I ordered the salad, knowing how huge it was and also ordered the “Raw-ghetti” which is spiralized zucchini and seaweed noodles with a nut-based pesto sauce. Adam (the owner) said to me, “Are you sure you want all that food? The salad is pretty big.” Hell, YES! I ate it all. And this salad saved my life…
Needless to say we are so glad to be home and eating well again. And we are “FULL THROTTLE FUHRMAN” for the next several weeks. I must replenish those nutrients! Speaking of Fuhrman Food, for all my Nutritarian readers, be sure to check my recipe index in the next week or so. I’m going to have a Nutritarian section there, as well as a Raw Foods section, inspired by my visit to the Rawk Star.
Okay! On to today’s recipe… I made this for a vegan potluck and it was a hit! I’d never had anything with Harissa before so it was fun to experience a totally new dish. Harissa is a hot chile pepper paste that has its roots in the Middle East. There are many variations to the recipe, depending on region and household, but it always contains red peppers of some kind and caraway seeds.

Most people buy a pre-made Harissa paste. Instead of making a paste, I just used peppers to create this tasty sauce and the result was wonderful. I used a combination of roasted red bell peppers and dried New Mexico red peppers. Since my NM peppers didn’t have a lot of heat, I also added some hot sauce. Harissa is known to be quite spicy! Use whatever peppers suit your fancy for this dish…


  • 3 cups unsalted cooked chickpeas (or two 15-oz. cans)
  • 1 pound potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes

~ for the sauce

  • 4 large red bell peppers, roasted (see my recipe for roasted red pepper sauce here for how to roast)
  • 10 dried chile peppers of your choice
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS ground cardamom
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 TBS ground coriander
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 TBS fruit-only apricot preserves 
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS raw cashew butter
  • hot sauce to taste (optional, depending on the heat of your chile peppers)


  1. Steam the cubed potatoes until tender. Set aside.
  2. Roast the red bell peppers. Let cool and set aside.
  3. Remove the stems and the seeds from the dried chiles and soak in pure water until soft (about 1 hour). Drain the soak water and rinse the peppers.
  4. When the roasted peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and the seeds and place into a food processor with the soaked chile peppers and the remaining sauce ingredients.
  5. Process until smooth.
  6. Place the sauce into a pot and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
  7. Combine the sauce with the potatoes and the chickpeas and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve over your favorite whole grain for a satisfying meal.

Serves 6-8. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

11 responses to “Chickpea Harissa”

  1. I know what you mean, sister. After a week in NE Alabama, I thought I would never see real food again. The sum total of their salad offerings: iceberg, cherry tomato, and cucumber with very heavy dressings (mostly ranch). Other salad extras included bacon and hard boiled eggs, unless you count pasta salad, Cole slaw, and potato salad. I felt I was lost. The grocery stores were not in any better shape (I was rural). It is no wonder that people are so unhealthy, eating in that way. I came home to FLORIDA so I could go full-bore Fuhrman with lovely lettuces, avocados, beans and peas, and peppers, and herbs and spices. I may never leave!

  2. Helyn says:

    Glad to hear you are home and enjoying better food! My honey and I kept on asking each other, "WHERE ARE THE NUTRIENTS???" Ha! I know what you mean. Looking around at the majority of the populace where we were… so many "swollen" and sick looking people. Food related illnesses abound.

  3. I'm glad you're home and on your way to nutritious eating again. Your recipe looks divine!

  4. Diana says:

    Looks wonderful! It is so hard to get good food while traveling. Any chance you could do a post recreating that salad?

  5. Helyn says:

    Thanks, Jeanne! 🙂

  6. Helyn says:

    Yes, I can and will! I am hunting for the sun-dried olives that they used. They added a great flavor and weren't loaded with sodium :))

  7. Diana says:

    Thank you!

  8. Did something similar the other week with pumpkin instead of potato as had lots in the garden….had to keep it mild for some of the guests though but when we have the leftovers from the freezer am going to add a bit of my homemade homegrown habenero powder to spice things up a bit…..boy is that stuff hot. Put a pinch in a big crock pot of soup on the weekend and it packs a punch!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar experience on a recent weekend trip to Oklahoma. I'm curious about your menu for use in the motel kitchenette (for future reference).

  10. Helyn says:

    Well, I did pre-prepare many things that I brought with, such as: quinoa salad, steamed kale with lemon and garlic and hummus, and of course fruits, nuts and veggie sticks. Things to prepare while there were going to be: smoothies, overnight oatmeal, green salads, tofu egg salad, chickpea tuna salad, kale salad, steamed veggies w/ brown rice. Nothing too elaborate for sure. And lots of salads since I knew it would be hot down there! A really easy thing to prepare ahead of time (if you're not going to be in the tropics) is soup. I did this on our last trip to Colorado (which was in February). I made large batches of three different soups and poured them (while hot) into mason jars. Then tossed the jars into a cooler the morning we left and this fed us for a whole week! Hope this helps. 🙂

  11. Helyn says:

    That sounds yummers, Rach!

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