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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Akshay

Chickpea, Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper with Homemade Harissa & Wild Oregano

This is a lovely vegan stew I made for my Sicilian family yesterday and we all loved.

It's simple but has so many layers of flavour - sweetness, smokiness, spice - a multidimensional dish.

The spices are ones we most commonly use in Sicily - black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika. They are mild and give sweetness to the dish.

The main flavour comes from the Harissa - a Tunisian pepper paste featuring red peppers, cumin, caraway, garlic and olive oil. My mum made this using mild Calabrian dried red peppers, soaked in warm water and then ground to a paste with the other ingredients.

Last but not least, Sicilian fresh oregano. Don't skip this of you can (you can use dry alternatively): so vibrant!


  • 2+2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, blackened skin removed, reseeded and coarsely chopped

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas

  • 1 tbsp double tomato concentrate

  • 1/2 tsp each of black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and paprika

  • 2 tbsp harissa paste (you can use store bought or read below for homemade)

  • Salt to taste

  • A generous amount of fresh oregano to garnish


Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a wide pan and add the onion. Sauté till golden.

Add the sweet potato, season with salt and cook covered for 5 minutes to soften the potatoes.

Next, add the tomato concentrate, diluted in 2 tbsp of water, the Harissa paste. Mix well.

Stir in the cooked chickpeas, red peppers, adjust salt if needed and cook covered for another 5 minutes or until the oil separates.

Transfer to a serving plate, top with fresh oregano, the remaining 2 tbsp evo oil and serve hot or room temperature with bread.

For the Harissa, blend to a smooth paste:

  • Dried red peppers (we used Calabrian ones but any mild, non spicy dried peppers will do)

  • Roasted red peppers (blackened skin removed, reseeded and coarsely chopped)

  • 1 tsp each of coriander, caraway and cumin seeds, toasted

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 tsp tomato paste or concentrate

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • Olive oil as needed

  • Salt to taste

Word of the Day


(oregano, pronounced o·rì·ga·no)

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