Harissa is an unforgettable staple that can sneakily slip your mind unless you keep it on hand. We make ours with smoky chiles, plenty of olive oil and a touch of orange for sweetness. Once it’s within arm’s reach, we bet you’ll use it in everything. Scrambling eggs? Fold a spoonful of harissa and a handful of cilantro in at the end. Grilling pork, chicken, fish or veg? Stir the bright paste into yogurt and thin with water for an easy drizzling sauce. Turn it into a sauce by stirring through olive oil and citrus, then spoon over roasted or seared fish, mushrooms or cabbage. It’s marvelous in tomato sauce, too (try it in this simple shakshuka). Or add it to aioli, serve as part of a plateau or a mixed grill, and spread/dunk the night away!
Toast the whole chiles in a hot oven or in a pan on the stove, turning them once or twice, for 3-4 minutes; once they’re pliant and you can smell them from across the room, they’re ready. Transfer them to a bowl, pour boiling water over top, and let them sit and soften for 15 minutes. Once completely soft, de-stem and de-seed the chiles and set aside.
Toast the cumin, coriander and caraway in a pan until just fragrant. Let cool, grind, and tip into a blender. Add the softened chiles, aleppo and urfa flakes, garlic cloves, tomatoes (as-is if oil-packed; softened in boiling water if dry), citrus juice and zest and a good pinch of sea salt to the blender, too. Puree while slowly pouring in the olive oil, pausing to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Once you’ve added all of the oil, drizzle in water as needed to get things to a smooth, creamy place. Stop and take a taste: Add salt, if necessary, and a bit more orange juice if the orange flavor isn’t coming through.
The final result should be immensely flavorful, a tad sweet (from that orange action) and just too spicy to eat in giant bites off a spoon.