May 30, 2010

Harissa and Goodness

When my roommate left she took the sriracha

I've taken quite a liking to hot sauce, so the situation had to be remedied.  I know there are tons of options in the supermarket but, I think that's part of the problem.  As with barbecue sauce, and salsa, and pasta sauce, and pretty much everything nowadays, there are too many choices.  Not the best situation for someone as indecisive as I am.  I compare price points, ingredient lists, brands, everything and, if after all that, nothing jumps out at me, I usually walk away empty handed and make my own.  I've already done this a few times with barbecue sauce and I do it pretty much all the time with marinara sauce; just a few weeks ago it was with crackers and this time, it's hot sauce.

Technically though, harissa is not a 'sauce' per se; it's more of a paste.  A delicious, vibrant red paste that will dye your wooden cutting board where it hits (not that I speak from experience or anything...).

I've never worked with dried chiles before but they weren't as intimidating as I'd imagined.  And the smell as they re-hydrated was kind of wonderful.  I was worried that such a high concentration of hot peppers would create an end product so spicy that I'd hardly be able to handle a teaspoon at a time but surprisingly, I found the heat from the harissa to be much more mild than I'd expected.

It's unlike any hot sauce I've used before and it compliments a number of dishes quite nicely.  I've had it on egg and avocado sandwiches in the morning, and with this millet and chickpea dish below, which was inspired by Heidi's Harissa Spaghettini.  As you can see, it's a very versatile condiment and one I would definitely suggest trying.

Make sure to wear gloves when you work with and de-seed the chiles. I learned this lesson the hard way, and more than once, with with a jalapeño. Most recipes call for whole spices/seeds but since I don't have a grinder I went with pre-ground. Also, the chiles I found were sold in 1 1/2 oz bags, so I just used 2 bags. No need to buy a whole 'nother bag just to used 1/2 an oz.
Adapted from Saveur and The Wednesday Chef

8 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed (about 2 oz)
8 dried new mexico chiles, stemmed (about 1 1⁄2 oz.)
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)

Put chiles into a medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit until softened, about 20 minutes. With gloved hands de-seed the chiles while immersed in water. Alternatively, you could drain them and then de-seed. (I found de-seeding in the water to be extremely easy-- by just lightly rubbing them between my fingers, the seeds would loosen and then I could dump them out).

Transfer drained chiles to the bowl of a food processor with the ground spices, olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Purée, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the paste is very smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar or other receptacle and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Refrigerate, topping off with more oil after each use. Paste will keep for up to 3 weeks.

Serves 1

1/2 cup cooked millet (about a scant 1/4 cup dry)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 a small yellow onion, chopped
4 large leaves dinosaur kale
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
5 black or kalamata olives, quartered
1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
1- 2 tablespoons harissa
2 tablespoons 2% greek yogurt (optional)

Warm the millet in a small pot with a bit of extra water to moisten, or begin boiling water if you don't already have cooked millet on hand.

Sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent and then add the kale.  Continue to sauté until the kale has cooked down a bit.  Add the chickpeas, olives, and roasted red pepper.  Mix until warmed through.  Add the harissa and stir until everything is evenly coated.

Plate the millet and pour the harissa chickpea mixture over top.  Top with a large dollop of greek yogurt if desired.


jason said...

I read your post about Harissa and Goodness and I think it looks AWESOME.I can’t wait to try it as I am a huge foodie.
I own and sell all sorts of hot sauces, BBQ Sauces, etc. If you want to link to our hot sauces or BBQ sauces for your recipe that would be great. I also included a 10% off coupon that is good for the next week. Have your readers use: 10off and they will be able to receive 10% off their entire order.
I would also be willing to give your readers a 15% off coupon that is good for the next 90 days if that is something that you might be interested in.
Thanks for the great reading and let me know,

Shelly said...

That sounds wonderful! I keep seeing recipes online that call for harissa, but I've never figured out how to make it. I'll have to give it a try!
As for sriracha, I like the brand that has a Rooster on the front. (Their chili paste is also excellent)
But I actually found a recipe for homemade sriracha that is really good. It's nice b/c you can control how hot you make it.

Faith said...

I just found your blog through ohsheglows, and I'm the same way with shopping! I swear, sometimes standing in front of the wall of marinara sauce can make my head spin! I'm a total sucker for hot sauce too, and your version looks brilliant! Come to think of it, all your recipes do...Can't wait to read more :)

Lynna said...


I'm glad I'm not the only one! Sometimes I feel like the staff at the smaller markets think I'm nuts.

So happy you clicked your way over here, and hope you'll continue reading!

Gillian said...

I've never engaged with millet before. I should get on that.

PS I manned the grill at my mother's neighborhood BBQ last night. Yes, I was pleased with myself when everyone praised the goodies (chicken and salmon). :)