Anyone else have a hot sauce obsession? I just honestly think pretty much every dish can be improved by a little spice. And every dish is different and needs its own style – a dozen different hot sauces are a necessity.
Harissa is a hot chile paste from northern Africa, and it has become a major staple in my hot sauce arsenal. If you like even a little tangy, tasty spice in your dishes, you’ve got to try this.
Harissa has a nice kick, but it’s the flavor that truly stands out – it’s not pure overwhelming heat but a deep, zesty flavor that enhances the dish.
Think sriracha, but African-style: roasted red pepper + spices + lemon juice instead of Asian flavors. Also because like sriracha, you’ll find yourself adding it to everything – eggs, pasta, soups, it goes on and on. It’s especially killer paired with goat cheese.
I was introduced to harissa a few years back when the Maisano family dinner theme was African and got instantly hooked. This recipe makes a good amount and it keeps in the fridge for quite a long time.
More power to you if you find authentic varieties of dried chiles, but I’ve made harissa with anything available and it comes out delicious every time. My local grocery store in Colorado has a great Latin food selection, so this batch used a combination of mild chile de ristra and hotter chile de arbol. I also like guajillo and new mexico chiles, and you can always use fresh as well.
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Spicy Harissa Paste
- 4 oz. dried chiles
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 t. caraway
- 1 t. coriander
- 1 t. cumin
- 1/2 t. dried mint
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 2-4 T. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Put chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak until softened, about 30 minutes.
- While chiles are soaking, roast the red pepper. Slice in half and place cut side down on a foil-covered sheet. Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, until completely softened.
- Place red pepper in a sealed bag to cool, then peel and seed.
- Drain softened chiles and remove the stems and seeds.
- Combine chiles, red pepper, garlic, spices, lemon juice, and 2 T. olive oil in a blender or food processor. Pulse into a smooth, thick paste. Add more olive oil if needed.
- Pour into a jar and top with a thin layer of olive oil.
- Store in the fridge and add to everything.