Spicy Harissa Tomato Carrot Pasta Sauce

Spicy Harissa Tomato Carrot Pasta Sauce

This pasta dish could not be more simple to put together. It also hits the spot when I’m craving a spicy, meatless pasta sauce. The spicy kick in this recipe comes from harissa paste. Harissa paste is from North Africa and is made from red peppers, garlic, olive oil, coriander and caraway. I’ve think it’s divine and have used it in pasta sauces, stews, and marinades. These days, you can find harissa paste in better stocked supermarkets in the States. I like the one sold at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find it in paste form, you can try finding harissa as a dry spice mix and mix in olive-oil and water in equal amounts until it turns into a paste.

Harissa paste goes wonderfully with the carrots, onions, and tomatoes in this recipe.  The carrots also add the perfect amount of sweetness to the sauce. I would say this sauce takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. It feeds about 6 hungry people (or 8 not as hungry ones).

This recipe calls for finely diced carrots and onions. I suggest using a food processor to get that fine dice. It makes easy work of it. At the end, I top it with freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese before serving.


Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp. harissa paste (heaping)
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian spice mix
  • 28 oz. crushed tomato
  • salt to taste


Here is how I put it all together:

Finely dice the onions and carrots. I use a food processor and it makes easy work of it.

Heat a heavy pan over medium-high. Add the olive oil. Sauté the carrots and onions together for about 5 minutes. Add the harissa paste and Italian spice mix and cook for another 1 minute. Add the tomato and salt and mix well. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Check on the sauce periodically. Add a bit of water if it seems like it too dry.

While the sauce simmers, cook up the pasta according to the instructions until “al dente.” Reserve a cup of the pasta water for later. Drain pasta.

Heat a large sauté pan or frying pan under medium-high heat. Add the pasta and as much of the sauce as you think best. Splash in some of the pasta water and toss everything together continuously for a couple of minutes until the pasta is well coated. Serve with freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.