Harissa Roasted Root Vegetables with Fried Capers

by Maja Lukic

For years, I associated root vegetables with soups, stocks, stews--things that are simmered and boiled on the stove top for hours until the roots impart both a strong, savory scent and an indelible, complex flavor. Root vegetables are certainly delicious this way--my mom always uses parsnips in her homemade bone broths. But a roasted root is a different creature entirely. In my opinion, roasted, caramelized root vegetables are the ultimate in winter fare--incredibly frugal and satisfying but healthy as well. 

Instead of a standard roast with olive oil/sea salt, (which is a perfectly acceptable and delicious way to go about handling roots), this recipe energizes that basic formula with a sweet and tangy harissa glaze.

I've been a fan of Mina harissa for some time. Harissa, as you probably know, is a Moroccan roasted-red pepper condiment that has become widely available in recent years, owing in large part, I think, to the Ottolenghi mania. The Mina harissa has a beautiful and unique flavor profile. It's tangier than some of the other harissas on the market. (I own about nine different kinds of vinegar at home so I was an instant fan for that reason alone). The texture is also more homogenous (blended?) and looser than, for example, the dense harissa pastes you might purchase in tubes, which tend to be thick and concentrated like tomato paste. (As a bonus, the thinner, saucy texture allows for painterly designs in dishes like soup, for example. What? I play with my food.). When Mina approached me to create a few recipes with their harissa, I was excited to experiment. This is the first of, hopefully, two or three examples of delicious harissa applications. 

For use in recipes, my personal preference is for the mildest version--I have virtually no tolerance for heat and like being able to control the spice--but if you need an extra kick of some sort, try Mina's spicy red or green harissa. I have sampled both and they're fantastic. 

The recipe is pretty straightforward. The root vegetables get a start in the oven while I prepare the glaze and then I continue to roast them until the vegetables are sweet and caramelized. I like to bring the whole thing to a close by highlighting the acerbic side of this harissa. A burst of fresh lemon juice and some fried capers tone down the sweetness of the caramelized, dense roots. At the same time, I understand that capers are not to everyone's taste. If you're not a fan, leave them off. But you should know that fried capers are simply the best--the little wrinkled, crackled flavor explosions add both a briny element to the plate and some interesting crispy texture. That's my argument, but I leave the ultimate decision to you. And if you suspect that a runny egg yolk would work well here, too, you're absolutely correct. More often than not, I like to top this with a poached or soft-boiled egg. 

If I'm not back here before the holidays, I wish you all a warm and safe holiday season and happy 2015! 

Harissa-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fried Capers (v/GF)

Serves 3-4

8 cups of chopped root vegetables (any combination of carrots, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, and sweet potatoes)

3 tbsp avocado oil, divided (or other cooking oil)

1/4 cup Mina mild harissa (see note)

2 tsp maple syrup

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp capers

fresh lemon juice, parsley, sea salt, cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees. 

First, prep the vegetables: peel the parsnips and turnips, and scrub the carrots and sweet potatoes (but only if organic; otherwise, peel). Cut the vegetables on the diagonal into 3/4" slices. The vegetables should be roughly around the same size for even roasting.

Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of avocado oil, some sea salt, and pepper. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet and place into the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until just soft and cooked through.

While the vegetables are roasting, whisk together the harissa, maple syrup, and lime juice. Toss the vegetables with the harissa mixture, making sure the vegetables are coated evenly. Slide back into the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes or until brown and caramelized. Transfer to a serving dish. 

Drain, rinse, and dry the capers. Heat a tablespoon of avocado oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the capers to the pan and fry for about 30 seconds or until brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil. 

Top the roasted vegetables with the fried capers, chopped parsley, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately. 

Notes: For a spicier dish, use the spicy variety of harissa or add some cayenne or crushed pepper flakes to the vegetables prior to roasting. 

Disclosure: From time to time, I may recommend products on my blog. All opinions expressed are my own. I will not promote a product I do not like and/or use in my household.

Beet Carrot & Apple Juice

by Maja Lukic


This gorgeously hued crimson juice is delightfully sweet and totally refreshing. Upfront disclosure: the recipe was adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook It's All Good. In my defense, all of her recipes (at least the ones I've tried) are excellent. The book is good and the recipes work.

Beet Juice2
Beet Juice1

Second disclosure: I am not the biggest fan of red beets. This is why I generally prefer to work with golden beets as they're much prettier and will not leave pink stains everywhere. But I have to admit that red beets work perfectly in juices - they give the juice a delicious sweet flavor and lend a gorgeous fuchsia color to it. And I tend to like pretty pink things so here we are.


Another point about beets - the juice may seem wasteful at first but you can save your beet greens and the vegetable pulp. The greens can be served alone or added to a soup and they'll be completely delicious. The pulp can be used in baked goods or veggie burgers (I'm working on a recipe, in fact).

Beet Juice3


Beet Carrot & Apple Juice (v/gf)

Serves 1-2

Adapted from It's All Good 

2 large carrots (the largest you can find), scrubbed and chopped

1 large or 2 medium beets, peeled and cut into wedges

1 organic apple

1 small pear or 1 cup chopped honeydew melon (optional)

1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled

1 lemon, zest and pith removed

Juice the carrots and beets first. At this point, you can remove the vegetable pulp if you need to repurpose it for another recipe (I had to).

If not, proceed with the fruit, ginger and citrus.

Because the carrots and beets are pretty dense, I find it helps to add a pear or some melon or other juicy fruit to lighten the whole thing. But you can leave it out, if you want the original Paltrow treatment.

Serve immediately. 


Yes - that is the Eiffel Tower. I manically collect postcards and this is my dish towel equivalent of a Parisian postcard.

Drink your beets & leave me a comment (or send me a postcard).