I made harissa for the first time ever today because I need to use it for a recipe later this week. Before I get to that, though, I want to tell you about the most amazing grocery store.

Not to make you jealous, but we live within walking distance of Stanley’s, a mecca of cheap, quality produce. Would you believe I bought all of this… rappini, green onions, fresh thyme, 2 lemons, 2 mangoes, 2 packages of whole wheat pasta, strawberries, 2 packages of white button mushrooms, 4 portobello mushrooms, a large bag of baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 red bell pepper, and a loaf of fresh bread… for $25. Yes! $25!
Picnik collage

It’s ludicrous, I know. I’m not sure what I will do when I move away from Stanley’s.

Anyway, on to harissa. I won’t bore you with the details; you can easily do a google search on the origins of harissa, a North African condiment. I’ve been seeing it included in recipes all over the place lately, and I have a great idea for a soup that I want to add it to later this week. Use it in place of ketchup or hot sauce or on anything that needs something, well, extra.

adapted from Amy Scattergood’s LA Times recipe
This recipe probably tastes better if you toast and grind the spices on your own, but sometimes I’m too lazy with my mortar and pestle.

5-6 dried red chiles (I used my New Mexico chiles again)
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
~1/3 cup olive oil

First, get to work re-hydrating the chiles and sun-dried tomatoes by letting them sit in boiling water for about ten minutes. Meanwhile, roast the red pepper. I do this by just placing the pepper over the gas flame, but you can also roast it in the oven. Be sure to remove the dark, burnt skin.

De-seed the chiles (though, in my second batch, I left the seeds in and omitted the cayenne pepper – that worked out nicely). Just throw everything in the food processor and blend, drizzling the oil in slowly. If you need to, add a little of the water that the chiles were re-hydrated in. The consistency should be paste-like; a little chunky is fine also. You can adjust the heat by the amount of seeds you include or by adding cayenne pepper.

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