Harissa Crusted Cod with Quick Chickpea, Spinach & Tomato Stew

Having a jar of harissa in your cupboard or fridge really helps when you need something to add some spice and punch to your cooking and this is a speedy and flavoursome meal that’s perfect for mid-week. Here the harissa adds an aromatic smokiness to the delicate fish. Serve with a side of couscous or slices of fresh bread, if you like.

Found in this book

Ainsley's Good Mood Food

Ebury Books


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

Put the caraway seeds in a deep-sided frying pan that has a lid over a medium heat and toast for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil then the cumin and garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the tomato purée and chickpeas until well coated then add the tinned tomatoes, cherry tomatoes (if using), 150ml of the stock and the sugar. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 5–6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the lid and simmer for another 6–8 minutes, adding a splash more stock if needed. Stir in the spinach a handful at a time until just wilted. Give a good squeeze of lemon juice, check for seasoning and stir in 1 tablespoon of the parsley.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, harissa paste, lemon zest, and the remaining parsley and olive oil. Season the fish fillets and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Spread the harissa breadcrumbs over the top of each fillet, lightly pressing them down to stick. Bake in the oven for 10–14 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets, or until the top is crispy and the fish is cooked through (it should be opaque and flake easily).

Spoon the chickpeas into shallow serving bowls and place a cod fillet on top. Scatter with parsley and serve immediately.



  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • a pinch of ground cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 heaped tsp tomato puree
  • 2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
  • 175ml vegetable stock
  • a good pinch of sugar
  • 150g baby spinach leaves
  • zest and juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 80g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½-2 tbsp harissa paste
  • 4 x 140g skinless and boneless thick-cut cod (or similar white fish) fillets or loins, from a sustainable source
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper