Harissa Shredded Chicken Lettuce Wraps

from Yalla, Let’s Eat!

I absolutely love using harissa paste to marinate and flavor almost anything. It is such a versatile flavor enhancer and I like to use it to marinate protein of any kind. Harissa originates from North Africa, more specifically Tunisia. It is a mixture of spices and peppers that include roasted red peppers, local hot peppers (called Baklouti), garlic, cumin, caraway seeds, coriander seeds and olive oil, all combined into a paste. This is one of North Africa’s most famous condiments and a must-have in your pantry to elevate any dish. Marinating chicken with harissa and then baking it makes for a hassle=free meal and shredding it right in the pan with all its juices helps with the cleanup. Simply serve it over lettuce or any flatbread. Finish it off with a sweet and salty honey and feta yogurt drizzle that will take it over the top.


Shredded Chicken:

½ onion, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 mL) harissa paste, to taste

3 tbsp (44 g) plain whole milk yogurt

2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil

1 tsp Aleppo pepper

1 tsp salt

3 large chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lb – 680 g)

Honey and Feta Yogurt Drizzle:

½ cup (115 g) plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup (38 g) feta cheese

1 tbsp (15 mL) honey

1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice

½ tsp Aleppo pepper

¼ tsp salt, or to taste

To Serve:

Leaves from 1 head Boston lettuce, washed and dried

Optional garnishes: toasted sliced almonds, pomegranate arils, chopped fresh parsley


Make the marinade for the chicken: In an oven-safe baking dish, combine the onion, garlic, harissa, yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, Aleppo pepper and salt. Mix everything well. Make ½ inch (1.3 cm) slits around the chicken breast for the marinade to seep through to tenderize it. Place the chicken breasts in the pan and move them around to coat with the marinade. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes to 4 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Meanwhile, remove the marinated chicken from the fridge for at least 15 minutes to come to room temperature. Bake in its marinade for about 20 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F (73C). Remove from the oven, cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes.

While the baked chicken rests, make the drizzle. In a small food processor, combine the yogurt, feta cheese, honey, lemon juice, Aleppo pepper and salt, and puree the mixture. Set aside in a small bowl.

Using two forks, shred the chicken within the baking dish, keeping the juices and onion in the pan. This will allow the chicken to stay very tender.

To serve, arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter and top each with about ½ cup (70 g) of the shredded chicken. Drizzle on the honey and feta yogurt mixture to your liking. Optionally: garnish with toasted sliced almonds, pomegranate arils and fresh parsley.

Serve immediately.

Note: Depending on the kind of harissa paste you buy, the spice levels can vary. Taste it first to see how spicy it is before adding it to the marinade. My harissa paste is spicy, therefore I added only 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of it.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: This is the perfect dish to serve for backyard lunches or as a side with a cauliflower steak or other veggie main.

Excerpted with permission from Yalla, Let’s Eat! by Maha Kailani © 2023. Published by Page Street Publishing. Photography by Saleme Fayad. https://www.pagestreetpublishing.com/