Pan-Seared Tofu with Harissa Chickpeas


I think this month’s Bon Appétit Magazine may be one of my favorites. They focused on healthful foods this  month. Page after page, I was just blown away and inspired by the ideas and photos. Their cover photo inspired my recent miso soup. When I paged through and landed on their Pan-Roasted Chicken with Harissa Chickpeas, my mouth began to water some more. Harissa. I love the spice paste and I have always wanted to make it myself. I knew right then that I had to veganize this dish. I also knew that I wasn’t going to use store-bought harissa. I had to make it my own.

Harissa is a North African chili paste. It’s spicy and fragrant – so full of flavor. I often buy it to spread on challah for Shabbat, or I sometimes spread it on fish. I knew from past research that Harissa uses freshly toasted spices and would be the perfect opportunity to break out my new mortar and pestle.

The amazing folks at Core Bamboo recently sent me a beautiful mortar and pestle that would be perfect for this Harissa job. Core Bamboo is also amazingly generous and sponsoring a giveaway for a mortar and pestle just like mine. So check out the end of this blog post if you are interested in winning a set for your own kitchen. Core Bamboo produces an amazing array of kitchen products. I think I have a cutting board addiction, and several in my collection are made by Core, as are several of my bowls. I may also hoard serving bowls. I’m a kitchen stuff hoarder. Plain and simple.

Anyhow, back to the dish.

First, I made the Harissa. I soaked some dried chile peppers in boiling water.


While the peppers soaked, I toasted the spices in a hot pan. I then ground up the toasted spices in my mortar and pestle.


Once the peppers were soft, I seeded and stemmed them and then I transferred everything to my Cuisinart food processor and blended the mixture. Everything came together quickly.


Once the harissa is ready, transfer the mixture to a clean jar and add some extra olive oil to cover the paste.


I then set out to make the rest of the meal.

Next, I sliced my tofu and spiced it with salt, pepper and cumin. I seared the sliced tofu in a hot pan and then transferred the tofu to a plate.

I sautéed some onion, garlic and additional spices. I added my chickpeas to the pan, along with some harissa, tomato paste and vegetable broth.  I let the mixture cook for a few minutes. I then added the tofu back to the pan so that it gets coated with the Harissa.


I served the tofu and chickpeas with some lemon wedges.


Dinner was amazing. It was super easy to make and everyone walked away with full, happy bellies. I hope you enjoy!

Don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway for a Core Bamboo Mortar & Pestle!

Pan-Seared Tofu with Harissa Chickpeas
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, drained and sliced
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
  • ⅓ cup Harissa (see recipe below) or use store-bought
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat.
  2. Season the tofu slices with the salt, pepper and cumin and sear the tofu until browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate when done.
  3. Add onion and garlic to the pan and saute for a few minutes until softened.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste and add in the chickpeas and the harissa.
  5. Stir in the vegetable broth and let the mixture simmer.
  6. Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and then add the tofu back to the pan. Ensure that the tofu is coated with the harissa mixture.
  7. Serve the dish with lemon wedges for squeezing over the dish. You may also like rice along side the dish.
  8. Enjoy!

Homemade Harissa
Adapted from Saveur
Recipe type: sauce, dip, paste
Cuisine: Moroccan, Tunisian
  • 6 Dried Guajillo Chiles
  • 3 Dried Pasilla Chiles
  • 2 Dried Chiles de Arbol
  • 1⁄2 tsp. Caraway seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp. Coriander seeds
  • 1⁄4 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. Dried Mint Leaves
  • 3 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  1. Put the chilies in a bowl and pour bowling water over the chiles to allow them to soften. Let them sit for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. In a dry pan, toast the caraway, coriander and cumin seeds over medium heat. Toast them for a few minutes until they begin to become fragrant.
  3. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle and grind them so that they become a powder.
  4. Drain the chiles and remove the stems and the seeds. Transfer them to your food processor.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor, including the ground spices, and puree until everything is well integrated and smooth.
  6. Store the mixture in a sterile glass jar. Add some olive oil to the top of the harissa paste and seal the jar. Store in the fridge for up to a few weeks.


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About Hindy Garfinkel
  • Sarah Klinkowitz

    Pistou and persillade for sure, and I’d do more work with fresh herbs and garlic. There is nothing that beats a mortar and pestle, and it is easier to clean than a food processor. Mortar and pestle is just another form of kitchen therapy with a delicious result!

  • Karen Rees Kiolbassa

    Looks really yummy ! 😀

  • gitarz

    I have been looking for a good harissa recipe, so I’d be making that harissa!

  • Marcy

    I would make this! No, seriously. But not with tofu because the fiance has told me that he only wants to eat things with faces.

  • Jael Baldwin

    I would love a mortar and pestle that I could actually use! Also, thanks for the harissa recipe. I’d like to try that!

  • E Michelle Bakle

    salsa!!! or some sofrito!!

  • melindakitchentested

    My own dry rub mix (with coffee beans).

    • Hindy Garfinkel

      I love a dry rub with coffee!

  • astcgirl

    I would make a spice rub for ribs on the BBQ…in serious need of a good mortar and pestle.

  • Cheryl HeartnSoulmom

    I think the first thing I would do is a tapenade.

  • Sahara Rao

    I will make some ginger + garlic + pepper paste for stir fry.

  • Joanna Sue Grider Allison

    I would make a dry rub for prime rib.

  • Amanda S.

    I would use it to grind up some spices. Some different rubs for beef and chicken 🙂

  • samandsandy

    I have never had a motar and pestle but I did start a huge herb garden last year and need one. The first recipe I would try it one I found. Saute spinach then add a few pinches of white sugar and coat the spinach well then added finely ground sesame seeds (why I need it:)

  • Nicole Ann Newby

    I have never had or used one of these before! I would make a garlic paste or rub for chicken!

  • steph

    i’ve been waiting for this ever since i saw your photo on instagram! will be making it for dinner one night soon!

  • joni chadwell

    I would do herbs in it for mixing in olive oil for dipping bread into.

  • Beth Rossi

    I used it to crush herbs for my morning smoothie.

  • alycep

    Crush garlic and also use it prepare herbal remedies for my cats

  • chromiumman (at) mail (dot)com

    i’d make a dry rub for beef

  • yaffa

    I have NO clue what I would make with it….I have never had mortar and pestle so….guess there is always a first!

  • wendy wallach

    i would use it to grind up some dried herbs

  • Kim Kohl

    I would also use for herbs and many other things! 🙂

  • hawkshoe


    • Hindy Garfinkel

      One of my favorite drinks!

  • nickie burke

    I would it for herbs

  • Yosef

    I am a little obsessed with chickpeas, hairssa and that pestle and mortar.

    • Hindy Garfinkel

      I stopped buying canned beans (for the most part) partially because of you! I’ve been cooking pots of chickpeas (and other beans) so much more often now! So easy to do!

  • jeremy mclaughlin

    Would use for herbs.

  • Michelle Hamilton

    I would use it to crush nuts.

  • Shoshana Ohriner

    I love that mortal and pestle. I also thought that recipe sounds amazing, but I love your vegan version too!

    • Hindy Garfinkel

      I may still make the version with chicken. It’s so simple and so good looking!

  • Darby

    probably some dried herbs

  • Sara Wagner

    I would make some pesto with it.

  • Sina

    I grew up putting Harissa in everything. I love this recipe!

  • Ben Stephens

    Ooh if I had a mortar and pestle I would smush up ginger and cardamom pods to make chai tea

  • angel d


  • beth


  • tinareynolds

    I would use for herbs

  • Darlene Carbajal

    I would give it to my Grandma so she can make homemade salsa with it. 🙂

  • Jenette

    I would use it to crush herbs.

  • Alona Young

    I would make some nummy hummus.

  • Emily Morelli

    I would love to make a fresh pesto!

  • Jeannie

    I would grind herbs!

  • Jim Snider

    I would mash up some dried habanero peppers

  • Evelyn Chuter

    I would use it grind my dried herbs from my garden. I use them mostly for cooking and some for essential oils. This would come in handy.

  • Dani H

    I would use it first to make pesto!

    Thanks for a chance at the giveaway! Happy New Year!

  • T.E. Lawrence

    Awesome recipe & the mortar & pestle is beautiful. I’ve never seen one made out of wood before.

  • Renee Goldinger

    i would make pesto

  • Vennie Martinisi

    I love mortar and pestles, I actually collect them. I use them for anything from dried or fresh herbs (including pesto) to nuts to dried peppers.

  • Vennie Martinisi

    Oh, I should have mentioned that I have not seen any like this. The bamboo is very pretty and different! Thanks for the contest.

  • Cass Sudduth

    wow, such a nice mortar and pestle! I would have to think about what I would make first!

  • Ashley

    I would make something with all of the dried herbs my grandmother gives me.

  • Edna Williams

    I would use it for pesto and to grind herbs for paste!

  • coriwestphal

    I might make myself a Mojito with some fresh crushed mint! Yum!

    coriwestphal at msn dot com

  • Brandy Davis

    I would grind uo herbs for storage.

  • Natalie yeoman

    I would make some pesto

  • Danielle Porter

    Indian food! Maybe Chana masala!

    • Hindy Garfinkel

      oooh. I love chana masala!

  • Karen D

    the harissa sounds good to me! Want to try out this recipe! So, that’s what I’d make.

  • Mer

    I’d give this recipe a try! I’d also make some spice blends to keep on hand…maybe a pepper blend, or some dried herbs from my garden.

  • mayihavethatrecipe

    Thank you for sharing this homemade Harissa recipe. I have been wanting to make Harissa, but was not sure exactly what dried peppers to use. I am definitely trying this recipe!

    • Hindy Garfinkel

      The nice thing about harissa is that you can really play with it. You can adjust the peppers based on level of spiciness, smokiness, etc. Just have fun with it!

  • LilMissCakes

    This recipe looks great, and I would love to win that mortar and pestle!

  • SparkleCorn

    Oh pumpkin pie! Something about hand grated whole cloves!

  • Marty Musser

    Um, probably some kind of roast or London broil with a peppercorn crust.

  • Heather Voorhees

    I’d make a dry rub for chicken.

  • Robin Wilson

    If I won, I would give this to my son who just got his first place and loves to cook! Not sure what he would use it for, but know it would be delicious!

  • Calli

    my fiance has been gardening, so I’d use it for the herbs.

  • Kitty

    I would make some pesto with it.

  • Tracy Jones

    I would use it for herbs.

  • Ronnie Fein

    I make harissa often — use it on so many things I couldn’t possibly list it here. Faves: vegetable soup, grilled pineapple and baked chicken.

  • Diana Cote

    I would make a lovely rub for a cook out on the grill. 🙂 maybe for my birthday in feb? 😉

  • Whit @ Jewhungry

    Thank you for making Harissa. I’ve been itching to make. Y own and didn’t know where to start.

  • Sara

    Pesto! (I like mine with almonds and kale…)

  • Shan


  • pmilner

    I would use it to crush my fresh dried herbs. Thank you for another super giveaway opportunity. Keep up the terrific blogging.

  • miranda

    i would make salsa!!

  • Jessica

    i love making harissa!

  • Tamar Genger

    I am so into this recipe too and always looking for new ways to cook tofu. I just got my first mortar and pestle this year and I love it too.

  • Sarah Klinkowitz

    I love the combo of the strong spice and the lemon. I also got a mortar and pestle recently, and I love it. I use it to make persillade mostly.

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