Harissa Spaghetti

If you try any recipe from this humble blog, you should truly consider this one.  It’s probably in my top 3 recipes of all times that I have tried and tested for this site.  Chock full of good for you things, easy to make on a weeknight, and the added bonus of super simple-to-reheat as leftovers, this meal is, hands-down, a winner.  I found it on one of my favorite blogs, 101cookbooks, and now I am happy to share it with you.

What’s harissa, you ask?  (Yeah, I didn’t know either.  It’s ok.)  So, we learn together.  Harissa is a spicy red pepper paste or sauce commonly used in North African dishes (thank you, Wikipedia.)  Apparently, you can make your own, but for those of us on a tight time schedule, you can also find it pre-bottled for you and ready to go in the international cooking aisle at your local grocery store. (I can vouch that Whole Foods has it and some specialty stores, as well.)  It’s got a tangy, spicy flavor that I am really loving right now (it may replace sriracha for me in some dishes).

Anyways, this dish has a lot going on.  Kale, for one thing.  Probably one of the ultimate super foods.  Black olives for a little briny saltiness. Toasted pine nuts for a little crunch and nutty flavor.  I thought about adding in some capers, but I forgot, but I’m pretty sure that they would be awesome.  Add in some garlic and some lemon zest, and you’ve got yourself a lot of flavor.  You could use any type of pasta that you wanted to, but I love the heartiness of some whole wheat spaghetti here (I used the extra-thin kind).

I loved this so much that I took it into work for the next three days to eat for lunch.  That’s a huge deal for me, as I detest leftovers.  I cannot wait to make this again.

Harissa Spaghetti with Kale

Servings: 4



3 garlic cloves, crushed

Sea salt, to taste

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons harissa

8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti

1 bunch of kale, cleaned, deveined and torn into pieces

1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, sliced

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Zest of one lemon



1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the crushed garlic, salt, olive oil, and harissa; set aside.

3. Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta as directed.  Just before removing the pasta from the heat, add the kale and cook until bright green and wilted, between 5-10 seconds.  Drain the pasta.

4. Return the (now empty) pasta saucepot to the heat and add half of the harissa mixture to the pot.

5. Add the drained pasta/kale, the black olives, toasted pine nuts, and lemon zest.  Stir until combined and heated through, about 1 minute or so.  Serve immediately and drizzle with the additional harissa sauce, if desired.  (*I found this extra harissa sauce to be excellent to add in to the leftover pasta to avoid it from drying out too much.)


Source: Directly from 101cookbooks.


October 10, 2012 - 1:01 pm

Erin@LawStudentsWife - This is the second reference to harissa I’ve heard in the last 18 hours. It’s a sign: Must make. Also, I’m totally in love with kale right now/the farmer unloaded a bundle on me, so I’m excited to have a new use for it!
PS. Are you a fan of kale chips? Another of my fave ways to kale at the moment. So simple, yet addictive

October 11, 2012 - 8:48 am

Kim@hungryhealthygirl - Love the colors and ingredients in this dish! Going on my list of things to make!

October 12, 2012 - 6:47 am

Aimi - Any suggestions for where to buy Harissa? I could only find a Harissa spread at The Spice House and haven’t seen it at specialty grocery stores. Tried to make my own, but it turned out runny and disappointing!

October 12, 2012 - 6:51 am

Aimi - Oops, sorry, I forgot to mention that I couldn’t find it at my local Whole Foods or Trader Joe either, so if anyone has suggestions on where to buy it on the Internet, that’d be great.

October 12, 2012 - 12:33 pm

Melissa - The Feed from America’s Test Kitchen provides a DIY for harissa. I hope this helps.


October 16, 2012 - 11:27 am

Ryan - I love love Kale and pine nuts! This dish looks beautiful and delicious! Will need to try

January 6, 2013 - 6:00 pm

MRemi - Completly addicted! Stlll haven’t found Harissa yet so have been subbing in Siracha. It is killer. Requires discipline not to eat it twice a week. Love the kale.

May 7, 2013 - 10:32 am

Harissa Spaghetti with Kale - [...] For recipe visit:  thecurvycarrot.com [...]

March 30, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Mikell - This looks amazing. I only have harissa paste on hand–any recommendations on how to adapt for this recipe? Thanks!

March 30, 2014 - 1:09 pm

srlacy - Hi Mikell-

I think you should still be fine-just adjust to taste. Start with a small amount of the paste and work your way up.

Eggplant Focaccia and The Village Press Oil Dipping Sauce

In the past, I haven’t really been too big on product reviews, simply for the reason that I don’t use that type of food or condiment in my cooking at all.  But olive oil?  Yep, I pretty much go through it like water.  I’ve drastically cut down on the amount of butter I use in my cooking (baking is still going to require the good stuff), and I have made a conscious attempt to switch over to more mono- and polyunsaturated fats (I recently learned that, at age 31, my cholesterol is a smidge high…which is simply unacceptable to me.)  So, more fiber. Less butter/cream/cheese. Increase in exercise.  I’ve actually noticed a difference in the mirror, which is great.

Anyways, back to the olive oil.  When the good people over at The Village Press contacted me to see if I would like a sample of their product to try (and review it, if I wanted to on this website-no commitment), I said, “why not?”  I’ve never really paid too much attention to the different types of olive oils in the store, but this one seemed like a little more sophisticated than the plastic bottled (and usually very cheap) version I buy.  It arrived a few days later (I recieved the Village Press Barnea Olive Bag ‘n Box 1 liter), and I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I decided to try an eggplant focaccia recipe, using the oil both in the recipe, as well as make an oregano dipping sauce to go with it.  I didn’t want to lose the true flavor of the oil in the baking process.  So, first, I poured a little oil into a dipping bowl.  Thick, olive green, and heavy, but clear.  I tasted it: true heaven.  Almost buttery and velvety tasting.  Definite flavor.  Not the thin and pretty much flavorless oil I am used to.  It didn’t need extra flavoring to be a good accompaniment to the focaccia, but since I had extra fresh herbs on hand, I went with it.

Looking at their website, there are a ton of other flavor varieties (orange and chili infused olive oil?  I can’t even imagine how awesome that would be on grilled vegetables or even fish), as well as condiments (Dear Village Press, your harissa tapenade makes me drool every time I see the picture.)  They also have gift variety packs of different flavors for sampling.  And, on top of that, they have some pretty good recipes on their website (vegetarian and non-vegetarian).  You can order directly through their website, or, another source mentions that they are available for purchase in the US at Whole Foods (I completely spaced confirming this when I was there the other night).

As for me, this is like a little bit of liquid gold.  I’m trying to conserve the liter I have for special occasions, not for everyday cooking.  I’ll stick to the cheap stuff for that, but for any kind of recipe that olive oil plays a pretty big role, like a viniagrette, for instance, this will be my new go-to.  Thanks to Rieni at The Village Press for introducing me (and hopefully a few of you out there) to a great product.

As for the focaccia, I’m not usually a big fan of eggplant (sidenote: if any of you out there have great eggplant recipes, please leave a comment.  I want to incorporate it more into my cooking, but I’m a little scared.)  Think of this focaccia like a super savory eggplant pizza.  I used my favorite homemade pizza dough recipe here, but you can use store-bought if you are short on time.  It was like a meal on its own, but I served it alongside a phenomenal pasta recipe (soon to follow).


Eggplant Focaccia and The Village Press Dipping Sauce

Servings: about 4


For the focaccia:

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch slices

1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 pound pizza dough **I used this super easy version of my favorite recipe.  I always keep some frozen in my fridge to keep on hand. Store-bought is fine, too.

2 tablespoons cornmeal

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup Emmentaler (or swiss or Gruyere) cheese, shredded

Fresh oregano, for garnish

For the dipping sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1-2 tablespoons fresh Parmesan cheese, to taste

1-2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped, to taste

Sea salt and pepper, to taste



1. For the focaccia:  In a large colander, toss together the sliced eggplant and the 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt; let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place a rimmed baking sheet in your oven and preheat it to 400 degrees.

3. Once the eggplant and salt have been at room temperature for 30 minutes, transfer the eggplant onto a thick, clean towel (or paper towel) and lay out in a single layer.  Cover the eggplant with another towel and lightly press to remove excess moisture.  Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. On a clean and flat surface, carefully roll out your pizza dough to about 1/2″-thickness.

5. Lightly sprinkle the cornmeal over the surface of another rimmed baking sheet or flat, wooden board. **The purpose of this is to make sure that the dough doesn’t stick to the baking sheet/board.  Use more cornmeal if this seems like that will happen.

6. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet/board.

7. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.

8. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese over the olive oil in an even layer.

9.  Layer the eggplant (in a single layer, if you can-a little overlap is fine) over the cheese and drizzle the eggplant with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.

10. Sprinkle with fresh oregano, if using, and the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.  Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

11. VERY carefully, slide the dough onto the hot baking sheet and bake until lightly crisped and golden, about 20 minutes.

12. For the dipping sauce: Lightly whisk all the ingredients together and let sit at room temperature until ready to serve.  I had leftovers, so I just keep it in an air-tight container at room temperature and use it when I need to.


Source:  Focaccia from Martha Stewart, dipping sauce is a Curvy Carrot original.


October 6, 2012 - 1:24 pm

Mary Beth - Our Whole Foods is opening in three weeks and I’ll be on the lookout for this oil! I have high cholesterol, too, and just switched to a vegan diet a month ago and am hopeful for a big turnaround. With eggplant, I discovered a trick via Cook’s Illustrated: after you cut it, pop it in the microwave on a plate with paper towels and cook for about 5 minutes before using it in a recipe. It takes the moisture out so the eggplant doesn’t get mushy. Here’s one of my fave uses for eggplant: http://thebrokenbohemian.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/recipe-roasted-veggies/

your blog is always a treat to read- thanks for your inspiration!

October 6, 2012 - 7:11 pm

The Curvy Carrot » Eggplant Focaccia and The Village Press Oil … | ClubEvoo - [...] Link: The Curvy Carrot » Eggplant Focaccia and The Village Press Oil … [...]

October 6, 2012 - 11:53 pm

Alison - Jane Brody’s Ratatouille is truly one of the best – and I think the eggplant is what makes it so good. http://www.oduamy.com/best_ratatouille.html

I really enjoy your blog. :)

October 7, 2012 - 11:25 am

Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice - Hi Shanon! About two weeks ago, I found out that I have slightly high cholesterol, and I’m not even 30 yet! Needless to say, I went out and bought oatmeal from Costco immediately afterwards. ;-) This is a very creative dish! I made a vegetarian moussaka once in the slow cooker, and it turned out really good. Every once in a while, I’ll make “eggplant pizzas,” too! Thanks for sharing!

October 7, 2012 - 1:50 pm

Molly @ Toffee Bits and Chocolate Chips - Hey! We have a eggplant.. plant.. in our garden that has decided to grow 18 eggplant at the same time so I’m on the lookout for good eggplant recipes. This looks fantastic and I can’t wait to try it! Easy tings you can try with eggplant are cutting it in cubes, roasting, then adding to pasta sauce or slicing it thin with other veggies for a classic ratatouille.

October 7, 2012 - 7:02 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - This sounds awesome!

October 7, 2012 - 11:24 pm

Erin@theLawStudentsWife - Shannon, you have me dying to run to the store and purchase this olive oil! I can see my current supply quivering in its economy-scale plastic container as we speak…

This focaccia looks wonderful. I’ve been getting into making my own bread lately, and have been searching for a focaccia recipe to try. Ta-dah here it is! How did you know?

Speaking of recipes…you mentioned you were looking for eggplant recipes to try. I made this lasagna a few weeks ago, and it was a big hit with my non-eggplant loving husband. Thought I’d pass it along.

Thanks again for sharing! This looks d-lish.

October 8, 2012 - 12:45 am

Deborah@delicioushappens.com - This looks wonderful. The dip has some of my favorite ingredients! Definitely making!! I’ll also give the olive oil a try! I have my favorite – but maybe this is even better!!

October 8, 2012 - 8:15 am

M - I LOVE eggplant, and just happen to have that and a homemade pizza dough that need to be eaten. So glad you posted this, since this will be dinner tomorrow!
Also, I have two eggplant recipes I really enjoyed. One, from my site, for eggplant enchiladas, http://beautifultastyfun.blogspot.com/2012/07/eggplant-enchiladas-with-homemade.html.

The other recipe was for spicy eggplant, and it was wonderful. It was really tasty! http://www.preventionrd.com/2012/07/spicy-eggplant/

October 9, 2012 - 12:59 am

Karen - Love you blog, and as an eggplant lover, this recipe looks delicious. One of my favorite eggplant dishes is eggplant caponata served over linguine:

October 10, 2012 - 10:54 pm

Maria - I recently stepped into a local Southern CA store called We Olive. They have barrels of flavored olive oils and taste testing to help you out. Loved the experience. As for eggplant, last season I made an eggplant parmesan recipe from the folks at ATK–breaded and layered and baked.. Delish!

November 1, 2012 - 10:01 am

Garlic Red Mashed Potato Focaccia & Dreamfarm Giveaway - [...] Eggplant Focaccia – The Curvy Carrot [...]

December 6, 2012 - 2:10 pm

Emily Harting - I really don’t like eggplant either but I LOVE my friend Ren’s Caponata:
Ren’s Caponata

1 large Eggplant-cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium size onion-finely chopped
1 cup pitted green olives
3 cloves garlic-minced
3 T tomato paste
5 or 6 artichoke hearts-chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 t salt
FRESH Tarragon- whole lot!
dried basil and oregano
Spray olive oil

-Place eggplant on cookie sheet sprayed with a little olive oil. Quick spray again on the eggplant, then add dried basil and oregano. Bake 350 degrees about half hour.

-In large skillet saute onion & garlic in oil w/ salt-5 min.

-Stir in tomato paste and vinegar and heat to boiling. Add olives and remove from heat.

-Stir in artichoke hearts and cooked eggplant. Cool to room temp. and add chopped fresh tarragon.

Serve with hummus, crackers and pita bread.


December 6, 2012 - 2:26 pm

srlacy - Ooooh, this looks really good. I think I am going to have to try this one…thanks for the recipe!!!

December 16, 2012 - 3:54 am

L@Bachology - I only use Village Press olive oil for all of my olive oil needs. Just gorgeous. And velvety and green grassy as you have described. I too go through it like water. Lovely recipe thank you…

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal….To Go

This is ingenious, I tell you.  I initially got this idea from The Faux Martha via Pinterest, where I saw baked oatmeal in a muffin-type, portable form.  Perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, which, if you are like me, is usually the case.

The beauty of this idea?  You can turn any type of your favorite baked oatmeal into portable form.  Who would’ve thought?  (at least not me.)  So, I’ve “spiced” things up a bit here and went for one of my favorites, a baked pumpkin spice version, because it has suddenly become October.

I’ve been taking these little guys with me every morning into work, and my honest opinion is that they are great both warmed up and cold (think of it like a muffin).  If you prefer it warm, just reheat it in the microwave for a little bit.  I loved the addition of a few cranberries and walnuts (you know, for those omega-3′s) for a little added sweetness (I decreased the original amount of sugar here and may even decrease it a little more for the next time) and crunch.

Enjoy.  And, Happy October.

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal….To Go.

Servings: 12



2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup sugar

2 cups skim milk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups rolled oats

1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spray a cupcake pan with cooking spray; set aside.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, soak the cranberries in about 1 cup hot water.  Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

3. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, if you are doing this manually), combine the melted butter, pumpkin puree, sugar, skim milk, and eggs, mixing on medium speed until smooth.

4. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the rolled oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves, mixing well.

5. Drain the cranberries, and add them to the mixture.

6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped walnuts until thoroughly incorporated.

7. Evenly dividing the batter, spoon the mixture into your prepared cupcake pan.

8. Bake until lightly golden and the “muffins” are springy, about 30 minutes.

Scout wishes you a Happy October, too.

Source:  Adapted from Yummly.  Inspired by The Faux Martha.


October 3, 2012 - 10:25 am

Bridget@MrsGreenJeans - These would be a perfect on the go breakfast or snack. Your dog is so adorable! I love seeing him/her in photos! Sorry forgot if she was a lady or a man ;) still too adorable!!! I would like to borrow him/her

October 3, 2012 - 10:52 am

the peach - These look very good and healthy, Ben would really like these, and of course like you said, a good thing to have running out the door in the morning. And of course Scout looks adorable!

October 3, 2012 - 12:17 pm

Kelsey - What a great idea! I eat breakfast in my car most mornings, so this would be wonderful. I could even heat a couple up when I got to school and eat them while I prep for the day. Thanks for sharing.

Scout is adorable, by the way.

October 3, 2012 - 6:58 pm

melissa - Love your website. Is the reduced sugar you mentioned for your personal taste reflected in the recipe? Thanks

October 3, 2012 - 7:17 pm

srlacy - Hi Melissa-
Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I reduced the amount of sugar to 1/4 cup, and this is reflected in the recipe.

October 3, 2012 - 10:41 pm

Natalie - wow Shanon, these look amazing! I’ve been looking for something exactly like this- definitely going to try them!

October 4, 2012 - 9:08 am

Erin - Hi!

One of my best friends from college, Begem, recommended your blog to me, and I am so so excited she did! I absolutely love it. This post is perfection–I’m oatmeal obsessed and am on a continual quest to come up with new, fun ways to prepare it. These look d-lish, plus during the fall I tend to hoard cans of pumpkin so that I can be prepared whenever a craving strikes (read: all the time). This “oatmeal to go” looks like the perfect use!

As a fellow “upper valley” resident/cheese lover (it’s just better up here), ardent love of food and cooking, and girl on a quest for “healthy, indulgent” dishes, I really appreciate what you do! Thanks for sharing with all of us.


October 4, 2012 - 10:53 am

srlacy - Hey Erin!

Tell Begem I said hello! Where did she end up matching? I remember she was interested in California. She’s awesome!

October 4, 2012 - 5:19 pm

Jane - New rule – you cannot blog unless you include a pic of that beautiful Scout in each post! What a squeezable face!

October 5, 2012 - 9:06 pm

Courtney - Love these! What a wonderful idea. Making these on Sunday would provide breakfast for the entire week. Cannot beat that! :)

October 7, 2012 - 11:51 pm

Erin@theLawStudentsWife - Hey Shannon!

Miss Begem is awesome indeed, and she matched at fabulous UC San Diego. She’s back in Cali where her true heart lies. I’ll pass on your hello to her too at our next phone date :-)

October 21, 2012 - 2:51 pm

Donna - Love your recipe – I make the baked oatmeal all the time (from Faux Martha, too) but, when I make the pumpkin ones; I use the Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice – its gives them a real nice little kick. Love your dog – I’m a boxer mommy too – my Cali is fawn and only 5 months old!!

December 3, 2012 - 1:08 am

Stacy - Hi, Shanon,

Both of my daughters are vegetarian so I am always on the lookout for some tasty recipes we can all enjoy when they are home for the holidays. You’ve got some beauties that I can’t wait to try! My helper is also a Boxer dog, but a fawn. Scout is just adorable but then, I’ve never met a Boxer face I didn’t like. : )


January 29, 2013 - 4:48 pm

January Adventures | Mexican Sushi - [...] recently discovered baked oatmeal, and Allosaurus loves it. (Breakfasts I can make the prior night and/or in bulk are always a plus.) [...]

January 12, 2014 - 8:52 pm

Kate M. - These didn’t work out so well for me. I omitted the cranberries and added a touch more sugar for sweetness. The “muffins” were really well done after 30 min. and wouldn’t come out of the pan in one piece, even though I used a ton of PAM baking spray. I wonder what went wrong! I was really looking forward to these.

January 24, 2014 - 8:12 pm

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition | Lipgloss and a Backpack - [...] – Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal from The Curvy Carrot.  I use egg whites only and pumpkin seeds instead of nuts.  Baking oatmeal on the weekend to eat [...]

February 16, 2014 - 9:57 am

Lauren - Tried this and love it! I didnt have enough muffin tins so put it in some ramikins and a cake tin. My house smells deliciously spicy! I tagged my pic on twitter @librarylaureng