Harissa Spaghetti: A Quick & Delicious Weeknight Meal

Earmark this harissa spaghetti for an easy weeknight meal. You won’t be sad about it! The inspiration? One of the condiments that survived my recent refrigerator scouring was a three-quarters full tube of harissa. It’s the beautiful brick red, earthy, and often potent North African spice paste. I earmarked it for a spaghetti dish I had in mind. Whole wheat spaghetti, inky black olives, kale, and toasted nuts tossed in a pan to tangle with a garlic-charged harissa and olive oil sauce. Little flecks of lemon zest brighten each bite. I did it, and it’s wonderful.

Choose your Spaghetti

You can use whatever spaghetti you love here, of course. Keep in mind, there are many interesting pastas to explore these days. They’re made with everything from red lentils or chickpeas, whole wheat to quinoa. I love the added nutritional punch you get from using some of these. The spaghetti below is made from farro and add wonderful dimension to the overall dish (this one).

harissa spaghetti ingredients arranged in bowls on counter

Let’s Talk Harissa

Keep in mind as you head into this recipe that the range of harissas available for purchase is vast – trust your taste buds, and if any of you have favorite brands, give a shout in the comments. One tube might be tastelessly tomato-y, the next tongue-torchingly hot. That being said, the best road to a great harissa is to make your own, but I’d be lying if I said I’m religious about it – hence, the tube of red in my refrigerator door.
spaghetti dinner tossed with harissa oil, kale, and walnuts on a table being served

Make Your Own Harissa

I don’t have a homemade harissa on 101 Cookbooks at the moment. But a number of people have mentioned favorite recipes in the comments.

  • ValHalla: “I use Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (There’s also an amazing stew with harissa in that book.”
  • Bryan: “I swear by the Zuni cookbook recipe for harissa. it’s totally labor intensive but totally worth it. Plus, it’s a great excuse to finally use up a significant number of spices from the pantry. It’s full flavored, well balanced, a little spicy, and the recipe makes a ton. Perfect for freezing.”
  • I’ve also had good results with this recipe.
  • Kitty also mentioned the following about buying harissa in jars instead of tubes. “There are many kinds of harissa, and many degrees of “heat” for the paste. I would recommend purchasing a jarred harissas rather than the one in the tube. I have always found the latter to have a metallic aftertaste.”

If you have a favorite harissa, give a shout in the comments!
spaghetti tossed with harissa oil, kale, black olives and walnuts served on a platter

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