Are you in one of the places where cases are going up and restrictions are getting re-implemented? We are, too. I still haven't felt comfortable going out to eat (not only for my own health, but out of concern for the staff, too), so we've been cooking literally every meal at home. And while my life is all about food and I love thinking about what I'm going to cook next, I know not all of you share in my neuroticism. So here's a big tip: invest in some pre-made kitchen powerhouses that will seriously level-up your ability to make dinner taste exciting with very little effort. While there are a lot of things that fit this bill (I should make a separate post on that!!! I'll do it next week for y'all.), Harissa is a huge favorite in our house.
I've told y'all about how we love spice in this house, right? Like, Ghost Pepper flakes somehow make their way into almost everything. Over the winter I even came up with a Smoked Ghost Pepper Hot Chocolate that was fuego in more ways than one! So it should come as no surprise to you that one of my favorite store-bought flavor boosts comes in the form of a spicy Tunisian chili paste. Granted, it's not nearly as spicy as ghost pepper, but it does pack a punch of flavor.
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So what the heck is Harissa?
Harissa is a staple in a lot of Middle Eastern and Northern African dishes, and while recipes can vary by brand, region and country, the main elements remain pretty much the same: smoked hot chilis, garlic, olive oil, cumin, and coriander. Sometimes tomatoes are added as well, and while I haven't found any yet, I've also heard of a rose petal infused version that is popular. If you've used it, let me know how you liked it and where I can find it!!
I generally buy Trader Joe's version of the sauce because it's $2.69 for almost 7oz when you buy it in store. There are also a lot of versions available on Amazon, including this one that I like a lot. You can also make your own harissa pretty easily if you can't seem to find any. But whatever you do, if you like bold flavors, get some harissa for your fridge ASAP. It's bright and beautiful and packed with flavor. It'll make your life so easy!
The many uses for Harissa.
I'm not lying to you when I tell you harissa is a kitchen powerhouse. There are almost endless ways to use it. Slather it on some na'an or pita and turn it into a flatbread pizza! Put a spoonful in some olive oil and use it as a dipping sauce for your bread! Rub it all over whatever meat and veggies you have on hand for a quick sheet pan dinner! Plop some into your plain hummus and have a whole new flavor! Heck, even use it to make some awesomely unique potato salad! Or, better yet, use it to make my favorite entree salad!
The newest use for harissa...
Using my current favorite store bought sauce, I was able to turn the last of my veggies into a perfect accompaniment for our ribeye dinner last night. I rubbed it all over some halved Brussels sprouts and roll-cut carrots with agave, olive oil, salt and pepper then tossed them in the oven to roast to perfection. I also stirred some into mayonnaise for an extra condiment.
As a compliment, I whipped up a simple quasi-chimichurri by fine dicing parsley, some preserved lemon and a shallot and stirring in olive oil and red wine vinegar. And of course, I added some feta for some of that salty, brine-y kick I love and as a foil against the spice of the harissa.
Imagine: a little puddle of spicy harissa mayo. Fanned out thin slices of perfectly medium, simply seasoned ribeye. A heap of harissa roasted, deliciously caramelized carrots and Brussels. A sprinkling of feta. A few dollops of bright chimichurri. A final drizzle of harissa mayo. I'm not lying. It was GOOD. It was INTERESTING. It was DIFFERENT. And it took just a handful of ingredients and about 15 minutes of active cook time. So go on and get you some harissa ASAP. It'll change your life for the better, I promise.
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Ribeye Steak with Harissa Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts
- 2 6oz Ribeye Steaks
- Montreal Seasoning to taste, or sub Kosher Salt and Pepper
- 2 oz Feta Cheese crumbled
- Preheat oven to 425F, grill to medium high. Put all ingredients for vegetables on large sheet pan lined with parchment. Mix together with your hands until sauce is distributed evenly. Give vegetables space to caramelize by placing in a single layer with as much of the cut sides directly on the pan as possible.
- Roast vegetables in oven for about 15 minutes. Pull them out, flip them to get the char on other sides. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes until fork tender and deeply colored.
- On preheated grill, put heavily seasoned ribeye down, leaving it untouched for about 4-6 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4-6 minutes until desired doneness is achieved. For food safety, make sure it's at least 145F. Rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing thinly on the bias.
- While vegetables are roasting make the harissa mayonnaise by mixing all ingredients together. Set aside.
- Mix all chimichurri ingredients together. Set aside.
- To plate, put a dollop of harissa mayonnaise on plate. Fan out thinly sliced ribeye in a starburst pattern. Top with a few large spoonfuls of vegetables. Divide feta crumbles between two plates. Drizzle remaining harissa mayonnaise on top. Dot with chimichurri. ENJOY!