Harissa Paste

Over the last couple years, harissa paste has become my favourite flavour enhancer!  I add it to almost everything.  I found a great brand at my local grocery store, but sadly it looks like they no longer sell it.

I decided it was time to make my own.  It’s actually incredibly easy and by making it yourself, you can control the heat.  I don’t like things too spicy, so I’ve only used three chiles, but you can add more or even some cayenne pepper to spice it up a bit.

This recipe does involve a little bit of pre-work: roasting the bell pepper (traditional harissa uses dried chiles, but I wanted to make sure I could always find the ingredients at my local store and didn’t want to have to run around town trying to get dried chiles every time I made a batch).  Roasting the pepper is the next best thing!

The star of this sauce really is the smoked paprika; it makes such a difference.  I first tried making this recipe using regular paprika, and while it was good, it was missing the distinct smokiness that makes harissa a flavour powerhouse.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 avocado oil (you can use olive oil, but I wanted a light tasting oil so it didn’t change the flavour profile)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 red chiles, roughly chopped and seeds removed
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, roughly chopped and seeds removed
  • 2 tsp coconut vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

Instructions:

For Roasting the Bell Pepper:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425°
  2. Place the pepper in a cast iron pan (if you don’t have one, you can use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper)
  3. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, tossing every so often so all sides get to char up
  4. Once nice and blacken, take the pepper out of the oven and place in a blow and cover with a lid or dishtowel for about 10 minutes to allow the pepper to steam.  The skin will loosen
  5. Remove and discard the skin (be careful!  The pepper will still be super hot and will be filled with hot water on the inside)
  6. Slice up the bell pepper, removing the seeds and stem

For the Harissa Paste:

  1. Add all the ingredients except the avocado oil to your food processor and blitz it up until everything is combined
  2. Slowly add in the avocado oil while continuing to blend (you can use more or less than 1/4 cup, depending on the consistency you want)
  3. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge

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