Sara's Green Harissa

By • September 7, 2012 • 63 Comments


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Author Notes: I had never heard nor thought of green harissa until I was paging through the MIX magazine put out by the Oregonian last spring. There was a recipe from the chef at and co-owner of Laurelhurst Market (one of my all-time favorite restaurants) for grilled baby romaine with green harissa. http://www.oregonlive.com/mix/index.ssf/vegan-vegetarian-recipes/grilled_baby_romaine_with_green_harissa.html

What?!? I was intrigued. I tried the grilled romaine right away, but put the harissa idea aside. Toward the end of summer I needed something to jazz up grilled vegetables so I came back to the harissa. Never one to leave well enough alone, I made some tweaks, and after playing around a bit have come up with a version I'm quite happy with. It's very fresh and green tasting, with a mildly bitter edge, a pleasant spicy heat, and just enough tang to balance it out. The flavor is wonderful with grilled eggplant or summer squash. It also works well to brighten fatty or rich foods like grilled steak or eggs in any form. I'm thinking about stirring some into sour cream or Greek yogurt for an easy crudité dip. Or maybe I'll toss some with stale bread and tomatoes for a panzanella. I bet if you give it a try you'll think of some great ways to use it, too.
hardlikearmour

Food52 Review: WHO: hardlikearmour is a veterinarian and amateur baker and cake decorator living in Portland, OR.
WHAT: A vibrantly green sauce alive with flavor and ready to serve with anything from side dishes to entrees.
HOW: If you can operate a knife and a blender, you're golden -- this recipe takes just minutes.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This sauce is anything but one-note, and its texture is perfect for drizzling on anything from abstemious steamed tilapia to an indulgent rack of lamb.
A&M

Makes about 2 cups

  • 2 ½ cups washed and coarsely chopped escarole
  • 1 cup washed baby arugula leaves
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 to 2 serrano peppers, seeds and stems removed
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro (I like to use the stems)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
  • 1 medium to large clove garlic
  • 2 green onions, roots discarded
  • zest of 1 large lemon (2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger juice (from a medium-sized ginger root)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ras el hanout (or sub ½ t cumin, ½ t coriander, ¼ t ground ginger, and ¼ t black pepper)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ice cubes
  1. While you are prepping your ingredients, fill your blender pitcher with cold water and a generous handful of ice cubes. This will help keep your harissa nice and cool, so the fresh flavor isn't compromised.
  2. Wash and chop your escarole. Measure it by placing it into a 4-cup measure and firmly press it so packed down it measures about 2 ½ cups. Add the washed baby arugula and measure the same way so the total is about 3 ½ cups. Once you quit pressing on it, it will spring up a bit above the 3 ½ cup mark. Set aside.
  3. Coarsely chop the peppers, cilantro, mint, and garlic. Slice green onions. I like doing this on a flexible cutting board, and just push everything to one side as I finish with it. Note: If you are worried about the heat level, set aside half of the serrano pepper to add at the end if desired.
  4. Zest and juice lemon. Add zest to the pepper pile, and set the juice aside.
  5. Grate the ginger on the coarse holes of a box grater. Take small handfuls of the grated ginger and squeeze it over a bowl to obtain ginger juice. This kitchen hack shows you how: http://www.food52.com/blog/4194_how_to_avoid_mincing_ginger_a_silver_medal_hack
  6. Pour ¾ cup olive oil into a glass measure. Set aside.
  7. Now that the prep is done, empty the ice water from the blender. Dump the pepper pile, 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon ginger juice, ras el hanout, and salt into the blender pitcher. Pour about 2 to 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in as well. Add 2 ice cubes to the mix, then put the lid on the pitcher. Blend until homogenous (I have a 2 speed blender, so pulse a few times on the lower speed, then blend on high. I'm sure you know how to best use your particular blender).
  8. Blend in the arugula and escarole a generous handful at a time. You may need to stop the blender and push the greens in on occasion. Blend until homogenous, then gradually stream in the remaining olive oil. The mixture should lighten in color and become emulsified. You may not need to add all of the olive oil. Taste and add salt or lemon juice as needed. You may also blend in additional serrano if you held some back and would like more heat. (Or if you're aargersi, just go ahead and start with 3 serranos!) Use immediately or refrigerate. The mixture will thicken with refrigeration, and some water may separate. Just give it a good stir before serving.

Comments (63) Questions (0)

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8 months ago Hilary G.

A total favorite of mine! I serve it to most all of my guests. Just note, it does not freeze well in my experience.

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10 months ago rebekahnicky

this looks amazing. how long does it last? seems like alot is there a way to preserve it?
cant wait to make it tonight

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10 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

It keeps at least a week refrigerated. I think it would freeze well, but haven't tried it. One of my favorite uses for it is as a dressing for panzanella which sucks up a good amount of it.

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10 months ago rebekahnicky

that sounds great. i feel like it could go with anything.. thanks.

Pamelalee

10 months ago pamelalee

What a wonderful blend of flavors! We enjoyed the harissa over grilled salmon, chicken, and roasted asparagus. The recipe made enough for another meal plus a couple portions to freeze. I highly recommend it!

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10 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

I'm thrilled you tried and enjoyed it!

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10 months ago ksmeadowlark

I cannot find escarole, what do you think of kale as a substitute? Or can you make a better suggestion for a sub? Can't wait to try this, it is gorgeous!

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10 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

The kale might work, but I've not tried it. I think something a bit more tender would be a better option. Something a little bitter, but not crazy bitter -- maybe a mix of young dandelion greens or endive and romaine. I think romaine alone would work pretty well.

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10 months ago ksmeadowlark

The romaine worked! Thanks, a fascinating recipe.

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10 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Glad it worked!

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11 months ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh yes, this is wonderful congrats on the recipe of the day!

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11 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks!

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11 months ago TheWimpyVegetarian

OH! And congrats on being recipe of the day. Well-deserved (as always) !

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11 months ago TheWimpyVegetarian

WOW! Sarah, this looks amazing. And it certainly travels the world between the escarole, ginger and ras el-hanout (one of my all-time favorite spices). I can't wait to try it !!!!

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11 months ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks! It's pretty tasty stuff -- it makes a great dressing for panzanella.

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over 1 year ago HCR

Thank-you! This I found literally brilliant. I had to leave out garlic and onions, so I added more of the other spices to taste and added half of a lemon, peel and all. Your Green Harissa cannot not work!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you! I was surprised at how much my husband and I liked it, so I'm glad you've had the same experience. It is very versatile, and I'm glad you tweaked it to your taste!

Stringio

over 1 year ago testkitchenette

Making and freezing in ice cube trays to add to soups!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Brilliant!!

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over 1 year ago ashleypiersonchasesdinner

What a creation you have shared!! Amazing, can't wait to try!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, apcd! (almost alphabetical!) I hope you enjoy!

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over 1 year ago ianwalk

you rock like armor! i never cease to be amazed by your culinary creativity.

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Muchas gracias, kind sir!

Buddhacat

over 1 year ago SKK

This is so good! Another home run!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you!!! I couldn't be happier that you tried and liked it!

Sausage2

over 1 year ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Congratulations Sara! What an awesome all purpose condiment. I love this!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, 5&S! It does complement lots of things.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 1 year ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Hooray! Congrats hla!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, mrsL!

Fb

over 1 year ago BlueKaleRoad

I love this recipe! My taste buds are dancing. Congratulations!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, BKR! That's a very good description - wish I could rename it "Dancing Tastebud Harissa"!

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over 1 year ago Midge

This is ingenious, hla. Congratulations!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, Midge! I can't take credit for the ingenuity, just my tinkering with it!

Meg_b_f52

over 1 year ago meganvt01

Congrats HLA! A stunning recipe, can't wait to try it.

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks much, megan! The color is pretty spectacular, and the flavor is not bad either ;-)

Linda_cooking

over 1 year ago Beautiful, Memorable Food

What an inventive and intriguing recipe! Can't wait to try this!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, BMF! I hope you try it, it's surprisingly tasty.

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on being a finalist, your harissa recipe is wonderful, it can be used in so many different ways. I think its brilliant.

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thanks, sdebrango! I thought the idea was pretty brilliant when I saw it, too!

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over 1 year ago Kukla

Worm Congratulations hardlikearmour on being chosen as a finalist!!

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over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Thank you, Kukla!