Green Harissa.The new pesto
Green spaghetti(recipe below)You will always find a selection of hot sauces in my refrigerator. Each one has a different level of heat. Some are very pleasant and give that little kick, while others will give you tunnel vision and make the tears run down your cheeks. I once found a hot sauce in my refrigerator which might well be called “xxxextra chili habanero”, my recommendation is for you to stay away from this one.
There is a difference between “hot” and “spicy” food. Hot will burn and spicy will have a mellow pleasant heat that add tons of flavour. Spicy food has a perfect mild kick to it, so you can still enjoy all the flavours and ingredients in the dish.
Whenever I want a little heat in my life, I reach for the jar of harissa.This is one of my favourite sauces. Harissa, pronounced “ha-riss-ah”, is a North African condiment which is most commonly from Tunisia.The name Harissa comes from the Arabic harasa, meaning ‘to pound’ or ‘break into pieces'. It is not far from a straight translation of the Italian pestare, to 'pound' or 'crush' - which is where we get the word 'pesto' from.Moroccan and Tunisian cooking is all about spices and flavour. That can be said about every cuisine, but at the end of the day it has more to do with what you do with the spices then anything else. It’s amazing what spices can do, if used right. A pinch of this, a pinch of that and you’ll discover it’s really all about a few ingredients that can make the difference in a great meal.
There are plenty of high end brands of harissas like belazu out there, however, making harissa at home gives you the chance to play with the flavours and the level of heat.
The heat can be varied according to the type of chili pepper used in the making of harissa. I have been making my own harissa for years with red chilli varieties and have stuck to just one recipe.
I came back to harissa and decided to look at it from a different flavour point.I thought I would try a different one,which uses green chillies. Never one to leave well enough alone, I made some tweaks, and after playing around a bit have come up with a version I'm quite happy with. It's very fresh and green tasting, with a mildly bitter edge, a pleasant spicy heat, and just enough tang to balance it out. The flavour is wonderful with grilled vegetables or mixed with a cream cheese and then diluted slightly with some chicken stock. It also works well to brighten fatty or rich foods, like grilled steak or eggs in any form. I'm thinking about stirring some into sour cream or Greek yogurt for an easy crudité dip. Or maybe,definitely maybe, I'll toss some with stale bread and tomatoes for a panzanella. I bet if you give it a try you'll think of some great ways to use it, too.
Green harrisa is a serious condiment that I like to use as a sandwich spread, add to roasted vegetables, use as a rub for meats and fish, or it can even be spooned over scrambled eggs, rice and pasta to enhance flavour.This recipe is using three de-seeded jalapeños and one jalapeño with seeds, creating a milder version. If you want a hotter version, use only jalapeños peppers with the seeds, I promise you will know the difference. If you want it even hotter, use serrano chilies. They are about twice as hot as jalapeño peppers.
Experiment with peppers, using different kinds, like a Serrano or try a Thai pepper, they are small in size but big in heat. Explore and see what kind of pepper you like.
This is basically a version of Thai Sriracha with another layer of flavour created from herbs and spices.The version below is a mild flavour enhancer as opposed to blow the roof off blinding hot.Its a great starting point which you can build on until you get to the level of heat that suits you.
with green harissa
Toast your bread(optional). Mash up the avocado with a pinch of salt. Spread a few spoonfuls of harissa on one side of the bread and mash half the avocado into the other side of the bread. Layer some shredded romaine lettuce and herbs or seasoning of your choice,Plenty of flor de sal and freshly ground pepper and close up your sarnie to enjoy or pack for an adventure.
- Dollop on eggs or avocado toast
- Mix with yoghurt as a marinade
- Add into burger mix
- Marinade meat, fish and vegetables
- As a sandwich spread instead of butter
- As a pasta sauce
Serves four to six.Make the green harissa by placing all the ingredients in a food processor. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper and work to a smooth, runny pesto consistency. Set aside.
1 tbsp cumin dried cumin
1 cup fresh coriander
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cardamom
2 spring onions
1 clove garlic minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
160ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
50g cream cheese
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
1 green chilli shredded as garnish
Place the Harissa, cream cheese, and chicken stock in a blender, and blend until smooth. season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta until al dente, and reserve a small cup of the pasta water when draining the noodles. Toss the noodles with the blended sauce, and if it’s too thick, thin it out with a little pasta water. Serve and enjoy!