Dried chili peppers that are not too hot and organic are hard to find. I grow chili peppers in my garden but I don't have a good place to dry them and I don't have a dehydrator. So I am using my homegrown fresh chili peppers to make harissa. This year I used hot Hungarian wax peppers, which are rather large but other varieties work well too. Making harissa in the slow cooker works great, it does not dry out like in the oven. Note there is no vinegar or lemon juice in my harissa. Acid has no business being in authentic harissa. it gives it an off-flavor. This harissa won't keep as long but it freezes very well. —Nadia Hassani
large Hungarian wax peppers, about 14 to 16 oz
olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
large garlic cloves, sliced thinly
salt, or to taste
In This Recipe
Remove the stems, membrane, and seeds of the peppers. Cut them into 1/2-inch strips and place in the slow cooker.
Heat a small frying pan on low to medium heat. Add the spices and toast until fragrant, stirring or shaking the pan a few times. Transfer spices to the slow cooker.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and fry the garlic until translucent and soft but not darkened, stirring a few times. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to peppers and stir well to combine. Turn the slow cooker on high and cover with a lid. Cook for 1 hour, or until the mixture simmers.
After 1 hour, turn the slow cooker down to low. Partially cover (I use a large wooden spoon to keep the cover open) and cook for 4 hours, stirring every hour or so. The peppers should be very soft and the liquid thick.
Taste for salt and let cool. Mash wit a fork or a potato ricer to the desired consistency. You can also use a stick blender but just for a few seconds, it should still be chunky.
Transfer harissa to a clean jar with a screwtop lid. Drizzle with a little olive oil so the top won't dry out. Refrigerate and use within 7 to 10 days, or freeze.