Have You Had Harissa?

By Radha Marcum, Senior Editor

I first tasted harissa stirred into a chunky chickpea-and-bread stew. Fiery and garlicky and aromatic all at once, it was love at first bite. Since then, it has become a staple in our home kitchen. We use it not only in Moroccan-inspired dishes but in place of ketchup and mustard. It adds instant flavor to any grain dish, soup, or stew.

There are many variations on harissa. The standard ingredients are roasted red bell pepper, hot red chilies, tomato paste, garlic, and salt. To that, some recipes call for onion, preserved lemon or lemon juice, or coriander, cardamom, cumin, and other North African spices. Whatever recipe you choose to follow, you practically can’t go wrong.

And here’s the thing: Even store-bought harissa is pretty darn good. Look for Mustapha’s Mediterranean harissa or Les Moulins Mahjoub organic harissa spread.

Aside from serving it with traditional North African dishes, such as tagine or couscous, try it out in the following:

  1.   Breakfast sandwich: Spread on toasted bread and top with an egg.
  2.   Swirl into eggs—then scramble or bake.
  3.   Use in place of mustard on baked tofu, tempeh, or avocado sandwiches.
  4.   Or, for a more subtle kick, mix into vegan or regular mayo.
  5.   Serve as a dipping sauce with roasted cauliflower.
  6.   Thin with a little water or olive oil and drizzle over roasted Brussels sprouts.
  7.   Serve with baked sweet potato fries in place of ketchup.
  8.   Toss lightly steamed green beans with a little harissa.
  9.   Stir into hearty lentil and chickpea stew.
  10.   Dollop onto heaping bowls of rice and vegetables.

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