Harissa Paste

Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend? I didn’t start my work week until Wednesday so this week kind of feels like cheating…did I really earn weekend already? I could get use to this 3 day week thing! As for my weekend? The only thing I have planned to to make some homemade ravioli (now if I could only decide on ONE filling option…).

Continuing with my New Years resolution to eat less processed food, I decided to make my own harissa paste instead of heading to the specialty market to pick up a bottle of it. I needed some harissa paste because I received a beautiful Tagine for Christmas and have been cooking in it non-stop. It’s such an easy, delicious, and ridiculously healthy way to whip up a batch full of hearty veggies drenched in flavorful Middle Eastern or African spices.

So what exactly is harissa paste? It’s a condiment made out of chiles that will have varying ingredients depending on location. It’s been known to be used in African, Moroccan, and several other Middle Eastern countries. I added a few teaspoons of it to a butternut squash, raisin, and shallots combination I made the other day and it was delightful. I plan to use the leftover paste as a condiment on sandwiches (adding a little bit of honey bring the spice level down without compromising the wonderful flavor). I’ve also heard of people dipping fresh bread into it or adding it to cooked couscous.

This recipe can also be made with fresh chiles (just omit the soaking process). I am eager to grow some in my garden this summer so we can experiment more!





Harissa Paste

  •  4 dried chiles (I used New Mexico), deseeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil + more for storing

Let the chiles soak in a bowl of water for an hour or until they soften back up. Drain the chilies and then transfer to a mortar and pestle (or a small food processor). Pound them with the garlic and salt until a thick paste forms. Add in the cumin and coriander and use the olive to thin out the paste.

To store: put in a sealable jar and top with a thin layer of olive oil. This should help it keep for up to a month.






Shelly is the creator of Vegetarian Ventures. She is also the Creative Director of Driftless Magazine and likes to wear wolf shirts, drink peppermint tea, and dance to Stevie Nicks.

January 3, 2013



  1. Reply


    January 8, 2013

    I managed to hunt down a recipe for ajvar but forgot to get an harissa recipe and here it is! Cheers for this 🙂

    • Reply


      January 8, 2013

      Yay! Glad I can help!