Simple Sundays | Harissa-style Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and Potatoes

Running errands the other day, I pushed my shopping cart from one end of the store to the other. I warily passed the display of Christmas trees and cringed as I heard the holiday music caroling from the shelves of CDs. I may be the biggest lover of all things Christmas, but with Thanksgiving still over a week away, it all felt, well, premature.

In the last 24 hours, something has changed. I’m really starting to feel festive. Perhaps the energy comes from listening to and guiding my children as they drafted their Christmas wish lists this weekend. Or the aroma of fireplaces perfuming the crisp night air. Even the holiday music that my daughter started to play today did not grate my nerves. Instead, it calmed me. I hummed along.

With all that we have to squeeze in between these two major holidays, I find myself paring back on my everyday cooking. Gotta save the big guns for the entertaining. With weeks packed with holiday performances and school events, decorating and gift giving, I try to cook as simply as possible.

If I owned a slow cooker, these are the days I would probably use one. Instead, I rely on my oven. And flavor. Harnessing the power of a Harissa style fire-roasted red pepper sauce, a simple roast chicken is transformed into a bold and hearty meal. Allow baby potatoes and butternut squash to soak in the fiery warmth, and let each bite warm your belly. Let it sustain you through this holiday season.

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Harissa-style Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and Potatoes

Total Time: Serves 4.


  • 1 cup fire-roasted red peppers*
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red chili flakes
  •  1 teaspoon cumin
  •  1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  •  1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  •  1/2 cup olive oil
  •  4 chicken legs
  •  1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced**
  •  1 1/2 cups small potatoes


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In the bowl of a food processor, chop the fire roasted red peppers, garlic, red chili flakes, cumin, salt, and cilantro until it is a smooth paste. With the motor running, add the olive oil and blend until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Set aside about 1/2 cup.

Marinate the chicken in the remaining sauce for at least 30 minutes. For maximum flavor, marinate overnight.

Place the chicken in a baking dish. Lightly toss the prepared butternut squash and potatoes in about 2 tablespoons of Harissa sauce and nestle between the chicken pieces. Season lightly with salt. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into chicken registers 165°F. Serve immediately with reserved sauce.

* Jarred fire-roasted red peppers work perfectly in this dish. Just be sure to drain the peppers before use.

** In the interest of saving time, this would be a great time to use pre-cut butternut squash that you may find in your produce section.

Inspired by and adapted from Harissa Sauce by One Tribe Gourmet, as featured on

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by Liren Baker on November 13, 2011

28 Responses to “Simple Sundays | Harissa-style Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and Potatoes”

  1. Belinda @zomppa — November 13, 2011 @ 5:16 am (#

    You got bit by the holiday bug! Love this dish – awesome enough to put anyone in the mood.

  2. Barbara | Creative Culinary — November 13, 2011 @ 7:31 am (#

    I’m with you…so trying to wait til after Thanksgiving to get into the Christmas spirit…but it’s hard to avoid and I admit, I’m already making gifts from the kitchen for Christmas…liqueurs need a couple of weeks to be ready you know!

    This looks deliciously warm in multiple ways; just gorgeous.

  3. — November 13, 2011 @ 9:05 am (#

    Is it my imagination or is the arrival of the Christmas Season being moved up more and more every year? It use to be the day after Thanksgiving. Now, the day after Halloween. Life moves at a fast enough pace as it is. I plan on slowing down and savoring Turkey Day – then, I’ll think about Christmas and Hanukkah! By the way… love the pics. I seriously wish I could pick up a fork and dive in right now.

  4. Priscilla - She's Cookin' — November 13, 2011 @ 9:07 am (#

    I need to get bit by the holiday bug! Having children at home definitely contributes :) I’ll start with some tummy warming harissa chicken – looks fabulous!

  5. Kathryn — November 13, 2011 @ 9:29 am (#

    It feels like Christmas will be wonderful this year. More frugal, more homemade, more about the people we love. This is the earliest I’ve been getting ready and in the mindset for certain. Your recipe looks and sounds wonderful. This is my hubby’s favorite type of meal and I can’t wait to make it for him. Thank you!

  6. Savorique — November 13, 2011 @ 9:55 am (#

    I often find harissa too hot for my own palate, but this one seems fine. In general, what if I made my home made harissa too hot, how could I make it milder?

    • Liren replied: — November 13th, 2011 @ 11:28 am

      This version of harissa is definitely on the milder end of the spectrum – my own children happily ate this chicken without complaint. If you want to tone down the harissa you have at home, I would suggest toning the heat down by adding a little buttermilk or plain yogurt to your marinade. That would also help to tenderize the chicken! Good luck!

  7. angela@spinachtiger — November 13, 2011 @ 12:13 pm (#

    What I most love about this recipe is that it’s comforting, yet healthy looking, and your pictures show that vibrancy.

  8. Norma — November 13, 2011 @ 3:10 pm (#

    I agree with Angela..comfort and healthy…beautifuly plated.

  9. Vanille — November 13, 2011 @ 4:12 pm (#

    Lunch time here and looking at your mouthwatering chicken makes my stomach growling !

  10. Kim Bee — November 13, 2011 @ 6:12 pm (#

    This is one beautiful meal. Simply stunning and beautiful. Your pictures are incredible.

  11. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking — November 13, 2011 @ 6:36 pm (#

    WOW, will you LOOK at the color on that thing?!?! This is certainly getting bookmarked. It looks delicious!

  12. Sara — November 13, 2011 @ 6:37 pm (#

    Liren, this dish looks absolutely delcious!My mouth is watering! I’m glad you liked the Harissa recipe! :)

    Sara xo

  13. Kathryn O — November 13, 2011 @ 7:40 pm (#

    There are few things better than a roast chicken hot out of the oven, and I love all the warm flavors here! So simple but so nourishing — the perfect pre-holiday meal :)

  14. Lindsey@Lindselicious — November 13, 2011 @ 8:00 pm (#

    Oh I love harissa, that sounds like a good idea to put it on the roasted chicken like that. This meal looks amazing!

  15. lee — November 13, 2011 @ 8:42 pm (#

    OMGosh this looks delicious, I am writing this one down. Reminds me of when I was living in the Middle East.


  16. Anna — November 13, 2011 @ 10:27 pm (#

    What I love about this recipe is that the ingredients make me think about home, family. And that is what the holidays are all about right? With chicken, you can never go wrong…This is a must try!

  17. Tine — November 13, 2011 @ 11:26 pm (#

    I love simple dishes like these!

  18. purabi naha — November 14, 2011 @ 5:23 am (#

    The chicken looks delish and perfectly cooked! I am drooling! The recipe is perfect!

  19. Christina @ This Woman Cooks! — November 14, 2011 @ 7:48 am (#

    This is exactly the kind of meal I crave this time of year. I love how simple it is and how easy it is to put together. Wonderful.

  20. A Canadian Foodie — November 14, 2011 @ 7:53 am (#

    That is a beautiful, flavourful, nutritious family meal on a plate, Liren! The flavours I know I would love. Anything with roasted peppers is a winner to me. The Butternut squash and potatoes look delish. I have another recipe for roasted root veggies, I love, too – and the salad – YUM!
    I can say, though, that after living on homemade roasted red peppers – I can only tolerate the jarred ones in a sauce – and baked – I am sure it would be good – but in a fresh sauce, not so much.

  21. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi) — November 14, 2011 @ 8:02 am (#

    Gorgeous pictures. Gorgeous dish!

  22. Kiri W. — November 15, 2011 @ 6:55 am (#

    Wow, this looks like such a comforting feast! I’d love every bite – thank you for sharing this great recipe.

  23. Ana — November 15, 2011 @ 8:00 am (#

    I wonder if I can make this look just as good as the pictures! What a wonderful dish. Nutritious and delicious!

  24. Kita — November 17, 2011 @ 7:06 am (#

    I feel like Thanksgiving and Christmas both seem extra rushed already this year, but I won’t lie, I kind of dig the holiday music as I’m bopping around stores. This chicken looks so warm and comforting. It’s been grey here for two days and this is just the kind of dinner I need to see.

  25. Lindsay @ Rosemarried — November 19, 2011 @ 6:21 pm (#

    What is not to like in this dish? I adore Harissa, and butternut squash is in season right now…and this sounds like the perfect meal. Simply beautiful!

  26. Christine — November 19, 2011 @ 11:44 pm (#

    Hey Foodies, Liren’s Harissa-style Roast recipe has been selected by Knapkins in our Recipe Guessing Game. Invite fans to play:

  27. oh sweet escape — November 23, 2011 @ 1:10 pm (#

    i always wanted to try harissa… this looks like a great recipe to try it!

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