One-pot harissa pasta

How many hours have you been staring at the computer today? Spring is so busy, and sometimes it’s hard to shake off the glow of our screens and step out of the tunnel of the Internet.

We’re doing just that in Greece for our honeymoon right now, and oh man, does it feel good. Fresh air, new scenery, SO much to eat. After an insanely busy past few weeks, Greece feels like breathing deep again.

I’m just so happy to be spending some time outside, away from the computer. A lot of folks think us book people are introverts who’d rather sit inside all day reading a book rather than socializing. Which is totally true. But I’m also willing to sit outside all day reading a book. I think that makes me adventurous.

If you also want to try something new tonight, and you’re bleary eyed from staring at your manuscript or the computer screen for hours, then come over here. Back away from the computer, tiptoe into the kitchen, and make this really, really slowly. Isn’t it nice to remember what unrushed cooking feels like?

harissa pasta skinnytaste recipe

This pasta is:

  1. Cozy, comforting, reassuring, and all those other words you want to come home to after a long day
  2. Excellent when paired with a book or ouzo
  3. Spicy, and just a little bit adventurous. Like reading outside.

This one pot pasta with meat sauce recipe is adapted from SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow by Gina Homolka, so I have to give all the credit there for the great flavor combination. I just changed things around so that I could make the recipe in one pot (the culinary term for that is “laziness”), tweaked the spices in the meat sauce to my taste, and used ground beef instead of lamb because it’s what I had. (The most glamorous reason of all, I know.)

If you don’t have harissa or roasted red peppers, just skip them and you’ll still have a very nice Bolognese sauce on your hands. I’ll still be virtually high-fiving you, because hey, you cooked a thing. You can also reduce the amount of harissa if you don’t like it too spicy. Just make sure you sear your ground beef well to build flavor—most of the time, people stop cooking ground beef as soon as it’s brown. But just like seared steak is more delicious with a crispy, caramelized crust, seared ground beef is also amazing when it gets a little deep brown on it. Try it just once–for me!

One Pot Pasta with Spicy Harissa Beef Recipe

harissa pasta skinnytaste recipe

Serves 4

Pull out from your cabinet:

watercolor icons cooking skillet free


1 celery stalk
1 carrot
1 large onion
8 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1 jar roasted red peppers (12 ounces)
3 tablespoons harissa
2 teaspoons coriander
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken broth or water
12 oz. elbows or other short pasta
3 scallions
1 sprig of mint

Finely chop the celery, carrot, onion, and garlic cloves by hand or in a food processor; set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil and ground beef. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper, and stir, breaking up any large chunks. Cook past browned until it is slightly seared and sticking a bit to the bottom of the pan, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the celery, carrot, onion, and garlic cloves, and season once more with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. As the vegetables cook, drain the roasted red peppers. Puree the peppers and diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth; set aside.

To the skillet, add the harissa, coriander, cumin, and paprika, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato and roasted red pepper puree, red pepper flakes, and broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Add the elbows and cook until al dente. As the elbows cook, slice the scallions and finely chop the mint.

Divide the pasta in 4 bowls and garnish with the scallions and mint. Serve while hot.

Eat it outside, inside, with a book, with company, or just all by your lonesome on the couch.

What I’m Reading This Week:

The Happy Traveler (Dr. Jaime Kurtz): Guys, this book! I’m so proud to represent it. Jaime is a happiness researcher and an Associate Professor at James Madison University, and she has written the definitive guide to traveling more happily and finding more meaning from your trips. All I want to do is hand out a copy to every last person on our plane, at our hotel, in the streets, at tourist sites, in public restrooms. Because don’t they know?! Traveling could be even better, if they just had Jaime’s wise words and cutting edge research on their side. The Happy Traveler releases May 29th and if you’re going anywhere this year, you really, really need a copy. Not that I’m biased. But why don’t you have this book yet? (This is where I go into bossy-and-braggy-agent mode because I just get to work with the smartest people.)

How Do Books Become Bestsellers? (Can Authors Increase Those Chances?) (Karen Tsetsi on “How do books becomes bestsellers?” is actually a very, very complicated question. Just defining “bestseller” can be very, very complicated. Here’s a nice exploration that shows just how intricate of a question it is.

The Elusive Value of PR as a Book Marketing Tactic (Emily Wenstrom on The Write Life): I blabber on about long tail success to every poor soul who finds their way here, pitches me at a conference, or queries me at Stonesong. But it’s true, true, true. As Emily Wenstrom writes: “Just like social media and a lot of the other most impactful long-term platforming tactics, public relations is looks at the long tail success. And if you’re an author looking for a career in this business, that’s exactly the game you want to be playing.”

What We’re Cooking This Week

Not a thing! We are hopping around from Athens to Meteora, and then spending next week in Santorini and Ios. We’ll be staying in AirBnbs the second half of the trip, and I’m already daydreaming about markets and eating fresh fish and feta and salads on the terrace. So no post next week, due to eating so much I pass out.


one pot harissa pasta recipe

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