New Food Friday: Harissa


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This New Food Friday was inspired by a recipe posted by my friend Alecia over at Vegetarian and Cooking. (Check out her blog for a ton of great vegetarian recipes!) Like Alecia, I had heard of harissa but hadn’t eaten or cooked with it until recently. After I saw her delicious-looking avocado toast recipe, I had to seek it out.


New Food Friday: Harissa

What it is: A paste made of ground up chili peppers, olive oil and garlic sometimes seasoned with coriander, cumin or other spices. The variety I bought included red bell pepper and vinegar, which are not necessarily standard. Commonly used in North African and Moroccan cooking.

What it tastes like: Spicy and savory; mine was also a little sour with the vinegar. It comes in mild and hotter varieties; I bought mild and found it pleasantly spicy, not overpowering at all.

Where to find it: It took me a little while to track this one down. My local Kroger didn’t have it, but Meijer did. I’ve also seen it in at least one upscale local grocery store. Look in the international section of a larger store, seek out a Middle Eastern market or order online. You can also find recipes online for making your own.

How to store it: Harissa comes in jars and cans that can be kept in the pantry. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

What I did with it: 

  • Used it as a topping for a quinoa bowl with chickpeas and vegetables.
  • Added a heaping teaspoon to a batch of North African Eggs in place of the jalapeno.
  • Tossed chickpeas in it and roasted them.
  • Used it as a spread for avocado toast.

The verdict: 
I love harissa! It’s spicy but not overpowering, and adds an extra dimension of heat and interest to whatever you make with it.

Come back on Monday for a recipe using harissa! And if you have an idea for a New Food Friday post, comment below.

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