Weeknight Cooking

Some Like it Hot: 5 Reasons Harissa Should Be Your Go-To Condiment

September  7, 2015

In Halfway to Dinner, we show you how to stretch your staples—or your seasonal produce—every which way.

Today: Jessie Snyder of Faring Well shows us how to bring a little fire to our fries, pizza, and just about everything else. 

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It wasn't until I ordered a way-too-large bag of chiles online that I decided to finally try my hand at making harissa from scratch. What resulted was a beautiful blend of chiles, garlic, salt, and lemon juice spiced with caraway, cumin, and coriander seeds. After taking one taste, I knew it had to go on everything.

So if you make this jar at home, or buy one from the market for a specific recipe, and are asking yourself, “How am I going to use up an entire jar of this stuff?,” don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are five of my favorite ways to use harissa, from french fries to pizza (with a recipe for homemade harissa at the end):

Harissa Fries
Sweet potato fries, need I say more? The spice of the harissa compliments the sweetness of the potato oh-so-perfectly. Pair it with cilantro jalapeño hummus, which brightens up this snack and adds a good dose of protein, and this is easily one of my favorite "afternoon slump" cures. It also makes a great side dish for dinner. To make them, sweet potato wedges in refined coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of harissa, then bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes.


Harissa Tahini
This is one of my favorite sauces of all time. To make the sauce (and bring your tahini to the next level), simply mix together 1 tablespoon of tahini with 1 teaspoon of harissa paste, some lemon, garlic, and salt, with a little water to thin. The result is this glowing orange colored sauce that you’ll want to drizzle on everything in sight—including these turmeric falafel.


Harissa Bean Dip
This dish is something akin to alchemy: To make it, blend together a simple bean dip using white beans, lemon juice, and salt, then throw in a good dose of harissa and some extra ground cumin to turn a bland dip into something magical. I want to spread it on everything: veggie burgers, sandwiches, toast, raw vegetables, roasted vegetables, or homemade crackers!


Harissa Pizza Sauce
One night, as I was blending my standard pizza sauce, I had a stroke of genius and decided to throw some harissa into the bowl. I may never make pizza sauce without it again. It adds such a depth of flavor to the tomatoes, and pairs perfectly with the artichokes, pickled onions, kale pesto, and pine nut-Parmesan on this pizza.


Harissa Tomato Soup
This tomato soup resulted from another one of those “just throw it in and see” moments. I’m beginning to think everything tomato-based needs a few spoonfuls of harissa, this soup included. The soup couldn't be more simple (to make it, just purée a can of tomatoes with pickled pearl onions, harissa, and coconut milk) and it's delicious with za’atar-roasted parsnip fries.   


Harissa From Scratch

Makes 12 ounces 

New Mexico chiles
guajillo chiles
teaspoon cumin seeds
teaspoon coriander seedsa
teaspoon cumin seeds
cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon Salt and pepper, or to taste

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Jessie Snyder

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