Have you noticed that I love spicy food? It’s true. I do.

Spicy harissa is something that’s been on my “must try list” for a while now. I finally got my hands on some yesterday and I am so glad I did: I think this chickpea salad with roasted red pepper and harissa is terrific!

If you are not yet acquainted with harissa, it’s a gorgeous, deep red chili sauce that hails from North Africa. Harissa is a very versatile condiment that can be used to add an exciting flavor to nearly any dish, from eggs to sandwiches to soups/stews to salads. It can be mild or very, very spicy, depending on the chilis used in its preparation.

I think you’ll have no trouble finding it if you live in a large city, and you can definitely buy it on the internet. If you can’t get harissa, though (or if you’ve been unhappy with the brands you’ve purchased), consider making your own. I found a few harissa recipes that look great: here’s one from Cordelia on food52, and here’s one from Saveur.

Chickpeas are a wonderful source of vegetarian protein and they also contain good amounts of the minerals calcium, zinc, and folic acid. I just love them in all sorts of recipes, but particularly in healthy salads like this one. I cooked my own dried chickpeas for this recipe, and you’ll find my method for these below. If you use the dried chickpeas, you’ll need to start soaking them at least the day before you plan to make the salad. If you prefer, you can use canned chickpeas.

I also roasted my own red pepper. This is very simple to do if you have a gas stove.

I blackened the pepper all over, placed it in a paper bag for 10-15 minutes to cool, and then rubbed the charred skin off. You can substitute jarred roasted red pepper, if you like.

Recipe for Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Harissa

use local/organic ingredients whenever possible

Ingredients:

*3 cups cooked dried chickpeas (instructions below) or use drained canned chickpeas
*1 cup finely chopped swiss chard leaves
*about 1 1/2 cups organic dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans
*filtered water
*1 cup cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
*1 cup chopped cucumbers
*1 cup chopped carrots
*1 roasted red pepper, seeded and chopped
*1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
*juice of 1 lemon
*1/8 cup olive oil
*about 2 tsp. harissa
*course sea salt to taste- optional

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, soak chickpeas in water overnight. You'll want to cover them by at least a few inches as they will absorb a lot of the water.

2. After they have soaked, drain them and rinse several times. Remove any skins.

3. Put the soaked chickpeas in a pot on the stove. Pour water in to cover the chickpeas by an inch or two. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top while cooking. They should be tender after simmering for about 1 1/2 hours. Drain any water that remains in the pot and set aside to cool.

4. Mix the chickpeas, vegetables, and parsley together in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice and olive oil over the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

5. Starting with 1 teaspoon, mix in the harissa. Taste and add 1 teaspoon or more to taste. Yours might be spicier than mine, so make sure you don't add too much. Harissa is a little salty, so I didn't add additional salt; you may want to sprinkle with a little of your favorite course sea salt, though.