Though I love the tastes of Thanksgiving–gravies and dressings cozy with the flavors of sage and thyme–once the big day is over, I feel the need to shock my palate with seasonings and spices that would have made a pilgrim flush a bright Christmas red. So as I was thumbing through the November issue of Saveur, I was drawn to an article about North African food in Paris and to one dish in particular, Casse-Croûte Tunisien, a sandwich piled high with olives, capers, and pepperoncini peppers and drizzled with copious amounts of harissa. It looked perfect, except that the central ingredient was tuna.
I realize that I could have made exactly the same sandwich without the tuna, but what would be the fun in that? Instead, I chose to toss the ingredients together with some chickpeas to make a salad that could be eaten with or without bread. The result was a fiery salad that changes flavor with every bite.
Medium-spicy harissa is the flavor that pulls it all together, and it’s the one essential ingredient. Substitutes, such as chili sauce, don’t have the same smoky flavor and may be much more spicy. You can leave out other ingredients, so if you’re not a fan of black olives or capers or just don’t have pepperoncinis handy, feel free to leave them out or substitute with something you do like. But please don’t touch the harissa. Without it, the texture would be dry and the flavor would be drab. If you’re not a spice lover, this really isn’t the chickpea salad for you. Please try my Vegan Chickpea “Tuna” Salad; everyone loves it. But if you’re a fire-lover like me, give this unique salad a try. It’s great on bread (try it stuffed in a pita) or atop your favorite salad greens.
- 4 small or 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
- 15 ounces cooked chickpeas (1 can or about 1 3/4 cups), drained
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 6 to 8 jumbo black olives, sliced (about 2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained, chopped if large
- 4 pepperoncini peppers, stemmed and sliced
- 3 to 6 tablespoons harissa, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons Tofu-Cashew Mayo (optional)
- 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 sheet sushi nori, crumbled, or 1/2 teaspoon powdered kelp (optional)
- Salt, to taste
- Boil the potatoes until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Place in a large storage container and add all remaining ingredients. Stir well and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.
- Add salt to taste and serve in pitas or other bread or with salad greens.
Other Recipes Starring Harissa:
Tunisian Bean and Chickpea Stew and Tunisian Vegetable Ragout with Quinoa right here on FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Vegan Harissa Pumpkin from VegFusion
Harissa Potatoes from Herbivoracious
Harissa Roasted Butternut Squash by Katherine Martinelli
Harissa Hummus from Andrea Meyers
Fiery Red Bean Chili from Jeanette’s Healthy Living