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Pasta and Chickpeas with Harissa

This pasta and chickpeas with harissa is a smoky, spicy, and super filling dinner recipe. Topped with an herb garnish, it'll be your new favorite weeknight meal.
4.84 from 6 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 508kcal


  • Wide pot
  • Large pot


  • 16 ounces medium shells ⅓ cup pasta cooking water reserved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter optional
  • 1 tablespoon harissa powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper optional
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper optional
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas drained
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes or crushed
  • ¾ cup parsley leaves minced, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for the herb garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the Pasta:

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it about 1 minute under al dente. Reserve ⅓ cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta.

Start the Sauce:

  • As you wait for the pasta water to boil, start the sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 7-9 minutes until it is beginning to soften and turn golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Melt the butter, if using, into the onion. Once melted and frothy, add the harissa powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and white pepper and cook for 45 seconds until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, lightly mashing into the onions and cook for about 1-2 minutes until it begins to deepen in color.

Cook the Chickpeas:

  • Add the chickpeas to the pot and toss to coat. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until you a few of the chickpeas pop slightly.

Simmer the Sauce:

  • Add the tomatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. If desired, add a quarter cup of water or stock to thin out the sauce, but it's not necessary. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add water as necessary if the sauce reduces too much, but it should have a thick, jammy consistency. Taste and season again to preferences.

Finish the Sauce:

  • Add the reserved pasta cooking water, the cooked pasta and half the minced parsley to the pot and toss to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes more over low heat. Turn off the heat.

Prepare the Herb Garnish:

  • In a small bowl, combine the remaining minced parsley with 1 tablespoons olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

To Serve:

  • Divide the cooked pasta and chickpeas between plates and spoon the herb garnish on top. Sprinkle each plate with a touch more harissa powder, if you like. Enjoy!


Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 11g | Sodium: 432mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 22mg
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