Spicy Harissa

Good morning, world. Today is the launch of my partnership with McCormick Spices, and I couldn’t be more excited. I only work with companies and products that I really believe in, and as someone who uses McCormick spices on a daily basis, this was definitely a perfect match. This year, they are presenting the 2012 Flavor Forecast, a look into what is new and fresh this year in food. Not only are the photographs on the website absolutely beautiful (I’m a sucker for some well done food photography), but the recipes are actually really creative and fun – I will certainly be making some of them myself, which is refreshing to see from a big brand name. You can get more information on the Flavor Forecast on Facebook, and also feel free to ask me any questions about new flavors for 2012 on The Crepes of Wrath Facebook page. McCormick is branching out this year, and they’ve got a bunch of new products that seem to focus a lot of Asian and Middle Eastern flavors, which are some of my favorites – I’m really thrilled to be working with them and I look forward to the challenge of creating interesting recipes in the coming year.

On that note, let’s begin. I’m sure you all love Sriracha, right? It’s my second favorite condiment, after mustard, of course, and I put it on almost everything; eggs, toast, avocado, sushi, dumplings, noodles, rice…the possibilities are endless. Now, however, I have found a new hot sauce favorite, and it goes by the name harissa. I will always have a big ol’ bottle of Sriracha in my refrigerator, don’t get me wrong, but this Spicy Harissa is a great way to change things up, and best of all, it’s really easy to make at home. I usually eat my harissa on top of falafel, chicken, or even something simple like scrambled eggs. It’s a fresh new way to spice up your everyday meals. If you’re a hot sauce fanatic like me, then don’t get left behind on the hottest hot sauce trends (do you like what I did there?).

Spicy Harissa
First, chop off the tops and bottoms of your bell peppers and cut them in half.

Spicy Harissa
Place them skin side up on a baking sheet and broil for 5 minutes or so, until mostly blackened.

Spicy Harissa
Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Spicy Harissa
In the meantime, deseed and mince your chile peppers.

Spicy Harissa
And toast your spices.

Spicy Harissa
Remove the skins from your peppers.

Spicy Harissa
Then roughly chop them and add them to your food processor, along with your other ingredients.

Spicy Harissa
Pulse until the mixture is a smooth puree. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spicy Harissa
Garnish with a few fresh cilantro leaves and enjoy. We liked using this on a number of different proteins, or even as a salsa!

Spicy Harissa
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1½ cups
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon caraway seeds (I happened to have whole ones and used them, but ground caraway seeds are fine, too)
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 3 red chile peppers (I used habanero peppers, because I like a lot of heat; if you like it less spicy, use red jalapeno or Serrano peppers)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  1. Begin by blackening your red bell peppers. Preheat your broiler. Cut off the tops and bottoms, then slice them in half. Remove any of the white pith from the inside of the peppers, then place them, insides facing down, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Broil your peppers until the skin has mostly blackened, about 5 minutes or so, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool enough to handle.
  2. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, go ahead and peel the skins away from the peppers (they should come off relatively easily). Give the peppers a rough chop and add them to your food processor.
  3. Now, quickly toast your spices. Place your salt, cumin, coriander, caraway, and black pepper in a dry pan and toast over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the heat and add to your food processor with your bell peppers. Now you can also add in your minced chile peppers, minced garlic, and olive oil. Pulse until the sauce is a smooth puree, taste, and add more seasonings as desired. This will keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week, or can be served immediately with a few fresh cilantro leaves on top as garnish. Serve alongside your favorite vegetables, proteins, or even as a salsa with pita or tortilla chips.


35 Responses

  1. Rhonda says:

    My husband is a hot sauce freak, he will love this. I am a huge wuss but I can at least try it :)

    Congrats on the McCormick deal, I use a lot of their stuff as well.

  2. aarthi says:

    wow..look at the colour..awesome dip..

  3. Love Harissa and now I can make my own! Working on my McCormick first recipe right now, loving the Asian and Middle Eastern focus too!

  4. Deanna B says:

    I just made my first ever batch of harissa and it was only okay. I think there may have been too much sundried tomato in it. I’ll be sure to try your recipe next.

  5. Dana says:

    I’ve never made harissa before, but I’m sure that like hummus, baba ghanouj and many other dips, that the home made will be much tastier!

  6. Corrie says:

    That looks beautiful and delicious!

  7. j says:

    that picture with the roasted peppers on the tray is amazing. on fiarrr

  8. beti says:

    the color is simply amazing

  9. Anthony says:

    Harissa is great stuff, and I love hot sauces. (Never have had sriracha, if you can believe that.) I was introduced to it in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Milwaukee years ago; I mainly use it on kebabs. Never thought to make my own, though. Have to rectify that next week, while watching the 49ers take down the Giants. 😉

  10. I love sauces and dips like this – fresh and delicious!

  11. Leslie says:

    I found that this recipe made a very liquid harissa, not at all paste-like. It tastes ok, it’s just not what I think of as harissa. It seems most other recipes call for dried chilies.

    • Sydney says:

      I’ve never had a paste-like harissa, only a hot sauce-like harissa, which is what this definitely is. Let me know how it goes with dried chiles!

      • Leslie says:

        It actually firmed up a bit in the fridge – still not super paste-like, but closer to what I was imagining. I might try making it with dried chilies sometime anyway, but as a spread for sandwiches (with lemon-dressed chickpea + cilantro salad inside, yum) this will work pretty well. :)

        Also – wear gloves! I washed my hands really thoroughly, even rubbed them with olive oil to dissolve the capsaicin, but I rubbed my eye in the middle of the night and woke myself up with the burning. :(

  12. michelle k. says:

    any idea where your hubby found that bowl?! it is truly simple and beautiful and i need them for my kitchen!

  13. […] new recipes inspired by the McCormick Flavor Forecast? I presented things that packed a punch like spicy harissa and tamarind margaritas. Well, I’m pleased to be able to say that I’ve been asked to […]

  14. […] the spirit of the Spicy Harissa that I made last week, I wanted to share another of my favorite falafel toppings: roasted garlic […]

  15. […] to fend for myself and make my own. I had already made some fantastic roasted garlic hummus and spicy harissa, so the next step was obviously falafel. Falafel is really easy to make – just puree together […]

  16. […] had it in anything and I had certainly never tasted fresh tamarind fruit before. Thanks to my partnership with McCormick, however, all of that has changed. They have created the 2012 Flavor Forecast to […]

  17. […] made harissa before, but Mina Harissa is made right here in New York, and as I am always happy to support local […]

  18. […] to fend for myself and make my own. I had already made some fantastic roasted garlic hummus and spicy harissa, so the next step was obviously falafel. Falafel is really easy to make – just puree together […]

  19. […] had it in anything and I had certainly never tasted fresh tamarind fruit before. Thanks to my partnership with McCormick, however, all of that has changed. They have created the 2012 Flavor Forecast to […]

  20. Kevin Bell says:

    How long does it keep in the refrigerator?

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