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vegan portabella crostini with tunisian carrot puree and greens

by Jackie Newgent  |  April 22, 2015  |  10 Comments

Vegan Portabella Crostini with Tunisian Carrot Puree and Greens_main

The “Recipe Redux” theme this month is spring cleaning. So after peeking into my fridge to see what I haven’t used in a while, one ingredient treasure I found was harissa. I adore it! But for some reason I forget I have it. So I put it to excellent use.

I was so lucky to host two amazing food-loving dietetic interns this spring. One of them, Rahma Rekik, was actually born in Tunisia where harissa is a popular condiment. So as part of her internship experience, I asked her to create a recipe inspired by her Tunisian roots. Here’s her story behind this recipe makeover.

Vegan Portabella Crostini with Tunisian Carrot Puree and Greens_with Rahma

Harissa, olive oil, and spices are just a fraction of the ingredients used in Tunisia, a small country in North Africa that many people often mistake for Tanzania. Growing up there, I developed a palate for these amazing, robust flavors. However, there was one dish — for some reason — I couldn’t wrap my tongue around. It was overly flavorful for my taste. Tunisians eat it with a baguette and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s called “Omek Houria” which means “the mother Houria” — most likely named after the recipe developer but no one really knows. It’s been a popular mashed carrot appetizer in Tunisian cuisine for decades. Although I was not fond of this dish, I wanted to be. First of all, it’s plant-based and healthy. Second, it’s very high in vitamin A. Third, all my family and friends liked it and I felt so different for not eating it. I had to find a way to incorporate it into my food dictionary but make it more interesting, hence, this recipe!

I absolutely love this very elegant appetizer! It has a perfect balance of flavor, color, and texture. The harissa and the coriander give it a nice kick. The mushrooms and baby greens add a bite to the dish. Everything falls together perfectly!

This dish is perfect as an appetizer if you’re hosting a party. And now you can tell everyone that you know how to cook a Tunisian dish! ~ Rahma Rekik

Calories saved: 190

Why it’s better for you? It’s loaded with plant-based goodness!

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vegan portabella crostini with tunisian carrot puree and greens

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  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 16 (2/3-inch-thick) diagonal slices whole grain French baguette
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon naturally-brewed soy sauce
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large (5-inch) portabella mushroom caps, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices (8 ounces)
  • 1 recipe Tunisian Carrot Puree (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup packed baby leafy green mixture, such as fresh baby arugula and watercress


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Arrange bread slices on a large baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside
  2. Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the mushrooms and toss lightly to combine. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and sauté until fully wilted, about 7 minutes.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of the Tunisian Carrot puree on top of each toasted baguette slice. Top with the mushrooms then the leafy green mixture. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and serve at room temperature.


Per serving: 150 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 400mg sodium, 19g total carbohydrate, 4g dietary fiber, 5g sugars, 5g protein

12 ounces carrots, scrubbed (or peeled) and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices ~ 2 large cloves garlic, sliced ~ 1 teaspoon harissa paste ~ 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil ~ 1/2 teaspoon sea salt ~ 1/4 teaspoon ground caraway seeds

Add the carrots, garlic, and 2/3 cup cold water to a large skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover tightly, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until fully softened and no liquid remains, about 20 minutes. (Hint: Add extra water by the tablespoon, if necessary.) Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked carrots and garlic to a medium bowl, add the harissa, olive oil, salt, and caraway and mash well with a fork into a smooth paste. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 1 cup.


  • Serving Size: 2 crostini

The “Before” Version

Inspired by Balsamic Steak Crostini with Herbed Cheese and Arugula

Per serving: 340 calories, 19g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 620mg sodium, 33g total carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, 3g sugar, 12g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • Go vegetarian to please more palates. Portabella mushrooms can have just as much savory appeal as beef, especially with a splash of naturally-brewed soy sauce to pump up the umami.
  • Add a pop of color. A spiced up carrot puree with worldly flair can be more enticing than a rich cheese spread while providing vivid orange color.
  • Serve greens on top of your finished appetizer so they stay crisp and fresh; mix up types of greens for extra flavor and eye appeal.

Vegan Portabella Crostini with Tunisian Carrot Puree and Greens_portion

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    1. Hope you have the opportunity to try it soon, Katie! Feel free to go heavy on the harissa, too! 🙂

  1. Great story from your intern. I can’t wait to try a Tunisian dish – interesting flavor combo. I’ve never heard of grinding caraway seeds – but bet it releases that sweet anise flavor!

    1. Thanks, Serena! I can’t wait for you to try this, too. And yes, we just put the caraway seeds into my spice/coffee grinder and whirled away. You’ll love that addition! 🙂