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Spicy Carrot Harissa Salad with Smoked Chick Peas

As a grad student, I packed my lunch almost every day. In fact, I can count the number of times I bought lunch in the cafeteria on one hand. A good packed lunch had to meet a few criteria: it needed to taste good at room temperature, be easily made ahead the night before, and could not be boring. Nothing erodes willpower more than sitting next to someone eating a delicious looking ($14) salad or sandwich while you’re staring down at a squashed PB&J.​

​This salad satisfies all three requirements. The combination of carrots, harissa, and roasted chickpeas gives the salad a sweetness, spice, and smokiness. As written, the recipe can easily be thrown together and served as a side dish or light lunch for a group. When cooking just for myself, I usually make the dressing and roast the chickpeas ahead of time. The night before I plan on having the salad for lunch, I grate the carrots and throw them in a Tupperware with some dressing to marinate while I sleep. In the morning, I add a handful of chickpeas and spoonful of feta, and head out the door. At lunch, I fend off jealous onlookers.
























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 Spicy Carrot Harissa Salad with Smoked Chickpeas
 Adapted (lightly) from the Smitten Kitchen
 Serves 4

 Ingredients:
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and patted dry
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp sumac (omit if you don’t have any on hand, but it adds a nice tang)
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp ground harissa (or same quantity harissa paste)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
       (use multi-colored carrots, for purely aesthetic reasons)
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup feta, crumbled or chopped into bits

 Instructions:
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss chickpeas with one tablespoon olive oil, salt, cumin, sumac, and cinnamon until evenly coated.
  3. Spread chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast until they’re browned and crisp, usually 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size and firmness the chickpeas. Give the pan a shake occasionally to make sure they’re toasting evenly. Set aside until needed.
  4. While chickpeas cook, heat the olive oil, garlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa in a small sauté pan.  Cook just until fragrant, approx. one to two minutes. Remove the pan from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
  5. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs and mix. Leave to infuse for at least an hour, or up to 24 hrs (if you leave it that long you might want to add an extra bit of lemon juice, as the carrots will absorb much of the dressing). When ready to eat, top with feta and chickpeas and serve.