Easy Desk Lunch I : Red Lentil-Harissa Hummus & Herbed Couscous (Vegan, GF Version)

Red Lentil-Harissa Hummus & Herbed Couscous-6

I’m currently in Leeds without any food, awaiting my grocery delivery to replenish my fridge shelf. It’s kind of torturous to be writing about food (especially vegetables and fruit) when all I have right now is dry pasta, spices and a bunch of frozen mozzarella. But I need to do it in order to show you guys this recipe! I’ve got a 3 part series of easy lunch-box lunches coming over the next few weeks, this one being the first.


At uni I don’t buy any meat which has been a slight learning curve for me as meals require a bit more pre-thought. In order to not get into a food-rut of the same 3 dishes on rotation, I like to make meal plans at the start of the week. I often get stuck when it comes to lunch, though. I’ve never been much of a sandwich person so that’s like half of all usual lunch suggestions wiped out. Sometimes the only time I have for lunch is the 10 minute break between walking from a lecture to a practical. Other times I’ll have time to actually sit down to eat in the food science common room. Not gonna lie, I often skip lunch because of not having time to plan and prep or even eat. Then cos of that I end up snacking on whatever I can get my hands on first and not eating mindfully.


These simple lunches are meant to be a little inspiration for you (and me!) if you’re in the same situation. I created them in collaboration with IKEA (using their new lunchboxes) as little instagram videos and pinterest recipe cards.

They’re kind of templatey recipes too so it’d be easy to keep them interesting/make them suit your diet by doing obvious ingredient swaps. For example for this recipe you can change the couscous for quinoa (which makes it GF), lose the spices and add pesto and switch the coriander + mint for chopped parsley. The ‘hummus’ is also easy to customise: change lentils for classic chickpeas or even petit pois. Change the harissa for miso, gochujang, or green Thai curry paste! The crudites can be whatever you have on hand – be that carrots, chicory, celery or just some crackers.

Red Lentil-Harissa Hummus & Herbed Couscous-4

Easy Desk Lunch I : Red Lentil-Harissa Hummus & Herbed Couscous (Vegan, GF Version)

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Course: Lunch
Servings: 2 -3 servings of hummus, 1 serving of cous cous


Harissa-Lentil Hummus:

  • 100 g (3.5oz) red lentils, rinsed + picked through for stones
  • 250 ml (1 cup) water
  • a heaped tsp harissa
  • 1 clove garlic , , peeled
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt , , to taste

Herbed Pomegranate Couscous:

  • 60 g (2oz) wholemeal couscous
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) boiling water
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of mint , , chopped
  • handful of coriander , , chopped
  • handful of pomegranate arils
  • salt , , to taste


For the hummus:

  • Place the lentils and water into a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until all the water is absorbed. The lentils should be mushy and thick. Place the cooked lentils the bowl of a food processor along with all the other ingredients. Blend until completely smooth.

For the couscous:

  • Place the couscous into a medium bowl and cover with the boiling water, place a plate on top of the bowl and set aside for 6 minutes. After the 6 minutes, remove the plate and fluff with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl. Stir together until well mixed, seasoning with salt as needed.


- this makes extra hummus! It's a really good snack to keep in the fridge for a calorie crisis. However it goes off pretty quickly so eat it up asap (it won't be a hard task, I promise)
- to make the recipe gluten-free, change the couscous for a portion of cooked millet, quinoa or kasha
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it went! Mention @izyhossack or tag #topwithcinnamon!



17 thoughts on “Easy Desk Lunch I : Red Lentil-Harissa Hummus & Herbed Couscous (Vegan, GF Version)”

  1. I learnt about Harissa today. Never knew it was a hot chili pepper paste. Good to know. This is actually a great meal for meat eaters. Was running out of accompaniments to the meat and this works well. So interesting. The Lemon I am sure just brings out the flabvLove the dynamic photos. A neat touch.

  2. What a creative way to make hummus, I love it! And this sounds like the perfect lunch for a long day.

  3. Cool recipe, thanks! I have been trying to bring packed lunches to uni recently and so far I’ve saved a ton of money and hopefully improved my health too 🙂

  4. Love this lunch inspo Izy! Especially that harissa hummus – yummmmmmm!
    fresh and light – perfect! 🙂

  5. I definitely need more desk lunches like this one in my life! It looks so fantastic, and would be a lovely change from my standard fare at work. I usually take tuna, cheese on rice crackers and veggie sticks, which is healthy and pretty tasty I guess, but it does get boring after a while. This divine hummus/couscous combination would have me singing through the afternoon, I suspect!! 🙂

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