Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Food: Harrisa

With the garden on the Devoto farm positively overflowing with tomatoes, and the joint minds of its members unable to come up with another variation on tomato soup, I realized it was time to hit the food web. By this I don't mean the grammar school shark-eats-fish-eats-baby-fish-eats-plankton type thing, but the network of food blogs and recipe archives that turn the internet from a time eating monster into a useful, creative, and reliable friend. Within a few minutes of idle browsing, I found I had clicked my way down a path that ended up on the page of a food blog called "The Wednesday Chef". She had a recipe (involving tomatoes, of course) that she absolutely swore by; she claimed you could eat it on potatoes, pasta, beans, scrambled eggs, and sardines on toast. I furthered the credentials behind this dish by mixing it with humus, putting it in a salad, spreading it in a sandwich, and eating it straight out of the bowl with a few corn chips.

If some of you are still in the dark, let me help you out. Harissa is a (condiment, I suppose) originally from Northern Africa, reminiscent of a chile sauce, except perhaps a little more versatile and less of a "sauce". It is an ingredient used heavily in North African cooking, but western cultures have started to adopt it and (I'll attribute this piece of gossip to Deb from Smitten Kitchen) it was even spotted on a table in  a cafe in Paris.

So, if you too are suffering from a tomato epidemic, I would try this simple recipe that can be made in bulk and stored easily, and is sure to add extra kick to anything you pair it with. 
Tomato and Pepper Harissa
Adapted from "The Wednesday Chef"

1 large red bell pepper
6 oz whole hot red peppers, the heat of your harissa will change depending on the variety you choose
8 oz Roma tomatoes, deseeded
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (or 1 small bunch fresh leaves; aprx. 2 Tbls)
2 Tbls olive oil, plus more for storage

Roast the red bell pepper in the oven until blistering and collapsing on all sides. This is most easily done by moving the racks to the lower portion of the oven, and then setting the oven to "broil". Turn the pepper every few minutes so every side is exposed. Allow pepper to cool, then remove skin and seeds. Cut in half, and place one half in the food processor. (You will not need the other half) De-seed the hot peppers* (carefully!) and add to food processor. Finally, add tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Pulse a few times to mix, and then slowly add the olive oil through the feeding tube. Process until smooth. 
To store: Place in jar and drizzle olive oil over the top until a layer 1/4" deep forms. Water bath can or refrigerate.
* Leave seeds in for an even spicier harissa


Anonymous said...

As a reminder to those with bountiful gardens, there is always the option of sharing produce with the Amazing Grace food pantry.

Anonymous said...

I am a big fan of harissa and homemade seasonings and condiments. Once you learn how to do a few simple things like this, you can make anything taste great easily. Thanks Fry for sharing the joys of simple pleasures !