Casserole/ Vegan/ Vegetarian

Harissa Hot Dish

I watch a lot of cooking shows.  I get a lot ideas and inspiration from these shows.  One of shows I’ve been watching lately is Girl meets Farm featuring Molly Yeh.  Her heritage is Jewish and Chinese.  She lives in the Mid-West, so between her heritage and where she lives, her flavors and style is really interesting. 

While looking for a vegetarian or vegan dish I could make for Audrey, I saw this recipe that Molly made called Harissa Hot Dish.  I’d never heard of hot dishes before but essentially it is a casserole topped with tater tots.  She had me at tater tots!

If you haven’t cooked with it before, Harissa is a spice used in North African cuisine.  Harissa paste is used in this dish, hence the name, and it is pretty spicy.  Some brands are spicier than other.  Since the dish is vegan, what’s the protein?  Chickpeas.  The chickpeas are cooked with harissa paste, some white wine, thyme and a few other things.  The sauce is made separately as the chickpeas cook down a little.  After the chickpeas are done, combine with the sauce and top with the tater tots.  Bake it and once done, top with grilled lemon and some fresh herbs.  If you want to add some feta cheese – it won’t be vegan but it’ll still be vegetarian.

The next time you’re in the mood for a casserole, try something a little different.  This dish is AWESOME! Check out the recipe and make your version.

Harissa Hot Dish

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By Molly Yeh Serves: 8-12
Prep Time: 30 min Cooking Time: 1hour 30 min. Total Time: 2 hrs

Harissa Hot Dish


  • Chickpeas:
  • 2 tbsp + 1/2 c olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tb harissa
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 sprigs thyme or about a tbsp of dried
  • Black pepper
  • Sauce:
  • 2 tb olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tb harissa
  • 1 tb tomato paste
  • 2 tsp aleppo pepper or paprika
  • 1 (28 oz) can or carton chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • About 1 1/2 lbs tater tots or potato nuggets
  • 1 lemon, to serve
  • Fresh cilantro and parsley, finely chopped, for serving
  • Optional serving accoutrements: crumbled feta or other cheese/vegan cheese of your choice



Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.


Bake the tater tots for 25-30 minutes. (This is a departure from Molly's recipe. I like really crispy tater tots, so I do a double bake)


In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes.


Add the garlic and harissa and cook for 1-2 more minutes, until fragrant.


Add the wine and cook until reduced by half.


Add the chickpeas, 1/2 cup olive oil, thyme, black pepper, a few good pinches of salt, and bring to a simmer.


Cover and cook for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are soft.


Meanwhile, make your sauce. In a separate pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.


Add the onion, carrots, celery, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of pepper and cook, stirring until soft, about 10-12 minutes.


Add the garlic, harissa, tomato paste, and Aleppo or paprika and cook for another minute.


Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and cook, covered, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.


Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.


Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to the tomato sauce, draining the chickpeas of excess olive oil (and discarding the thyme twigs when you come across them).


Transfer the mixture to an 8x12 casserole dish and cover with tater tots.


Season with salt, pepper, and more aleppo and bake until the tots are golden, 30-40 minutes.


At some point while it’s baking, grill your lemon: heat a skillet over medium high, cut the lemon in half and then place it face down on the skillet until it gets nice brown marks.


When the hot-dish is done baking, let it cool slightly, top with fresh herbs, squeeze with lemon, and serve with feta or other cheese/vegan cheese as desired.

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