Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Harissa is hot

It seems like every day I see a new recipe using harissa. Just a few short months ago I had never heard of it, and now, all of a sudden, I know what it is — a spicy red chili paste from North Africa—and I NEED to try it. In Crazy Water Pickled Lemons Diana Henry says that it's traditionally served with couscous and can "just about take off the roof of your mouth." Yum! Spicy is king in this household.

The version we tried last night came from April's
Food and Wine and included this menu: Herb-marinated Chicken Skewers with Harissa, Parsley Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon-Tahini dressing — all thrown together in pitas with a dab of hummus, and a little chopped cucumber and tomato.

Herb-Marinated Chicken Skewers with Harissa
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

• 1 teaspoon chopped thyme

• 1 teaspoon chopped oregano

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

• Salt

• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

• 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

• 2 roasted red peppers from a jar, coarsely chopped

• 1 red Thai chile, with seeds, chopped

• 1 garlic clove, chopped

• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

• Salt

• Hummus, for serving
1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, mix the olive oil with the rosemary, thyme, oregano and ground cumin. Add the chicken and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Meanwhile, make the harissa:
In a small skillet, toast the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds over moderately high heat, shaking the skillet a few times, until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely. Grind to a powder.

3. In a blender, combine the roasted peppers with the chile, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and ground spices and puree. Season the harissa with salt.

4. Light a grill. Thread the chicken pieces onto 8 metal skewers. Season with salt and grill over moderately high heat, turning, until nicely charred and just cooked, about 14 minutes. Serve the skewers with the harissa and hummus.

Parsley Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon-Tahini dressing
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1/4 cup tahini paste, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons water
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 4 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves (3/4 pound)
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise
  1. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the pine nuts are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and let cool.
  2. In a small bowl, blend the tahini with the lemon juice and finely chopped garlic. Stir in the water and season the tahini dressing with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the parsley with the scallions and pine nuts. Add the tahini dressing and toss well. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or plates and serve.
Let me tell you, it was delicious! The harissa is hot, but the flavors of the cumin, coriander and caraway are distinct. Wonderful and smoky.

1 comment:

  1. I had exactly the same thing last night at our new "Hizir Baba" Turkish restaurant.