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Make harissa your pantry staple: 8 Ottolenghi harissa recipes

by Malou Herkes

published on 25 August 2020

Yotam Ottolenghi describes North African harissa as his favourite of all chilli sauces and he puts it to all kinds of uses, from flavouring stews and marinating meat and fish, to jazzing up vegetables, plain rice and couscous. Made from chillies and a mix of spices, traditionally including caraway and cumin, harissa is a brilliant quick-fix condiment, adding fragrance, spice and sweet smokiness to your dishes.

Harissa is available in North African shops and most supermarkets these days, but the difference in chilli kick between one harissa and the next can be huge. Ottolenghi uses Belazu’s rose harissa, with the addition of rose petals for a subtle floral fragrance and with more heat than regular supermarket varieties. “If you’re starting with something else, then you’ll need to taste what you have and gauge how much to use”, he recommends or go a step further and make your own homemade harissa so that you can control the heat levels. 

Harissa is a must-have ingredient if you love cooking your way through Ottolenghi’s cookbooks as much as we do. Here are some of our favourite Ottolenghi recipes championing harissa, including a selection you’ll find in his newest cookbook, Ottolenghi FLAVOUR.

From the book

Ixta Belfrage, Yotam Ottolenghi

best ottolenghi harissa recipes ultimate trabake veggie ragu ottolenghi flavour

The Ultimate Traybake Ragù from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage

Yotam and Ixta tested this special meatless ragù again and again to get the balance and depth of flavours just right. “There’s no denying the list of ingredients is long, but these are all there to give the ragù its fantastic umaminess”, he says. Rose harissa provides fragrance and modest spice here, along with earthy lentils, porcini mushrooms, white miso, red wine and coconut cream for layers of complex flavour. It’s a winner!

Order your copy of Ottolenghi’s new FLAVOUR cookbook to get the recipe.

best ottolenghi harissa recipes shakshuka jerusalem cookbook

Shakshuka from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

A brunch classic is a brunch classic for a reason. This shakshuka combines fragrantly spiced tomato sauce with runny eggs, cooked in one pan and served with spoonfuls of labneh and bread to scoop it all up. 

Order your copy of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem here.

best ottolenghi harissa recipes pan fried sea bream with harissa and rose jerusalem cookbook

Pan-Fried Sea Bream with Harissa and Rose from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi 

Hailing from the Tunisian city of Bizerte – the northernmost city in Africa – this pretty dish is, in Ottolenghi’s words “sweet and spicy and beautifully aromatic”. Fish fillets are marinated in a harissa and cumin concoction, fried and served in a tangy, sweet, cinnamon and rose-spiked sauce with juicy currants. Delicious with rice or couscous.

Order your copy of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem here.

best ottolenghi harissa recipes roasted carrots with harissa pomegranate ottolenghi simple

Roasted Baby Carrots with Harissa and Pomegranate from Ottolenghi SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi

Fragrant harissa, earthy cumin and sweet honey work wonders with carrots here, roasted until caramelised and sticky. Bright and full of flavour, Ottolenghi recommends serving these carrots with chicken, slow-cooked lamb or a selection of vegetables and legumes.

Order a copy of Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE here.

best ottolenghi harissa recipes pappardelle with rose harissa black olives and capers ottolenghi simple

Pappardelle with Rose Harissa, Black Olives and Capers from Ottolenghi SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi

Wide strands of pappardelle pasta pair perfectly with this sweet tomato and harissa sauce, dotted with Kalamata olives and capers. Ottolenghi likes it spicy but you can reduce the amount of harissa if you prefer.

Order a copy of Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE here.

best ottolenghi harissa recipes slow cooked chicken crisp corn crust ottolenghi simple

Slow-cooked chicken in a Crisp Corn Crust from Ottolenghi SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi

Spicy, smoky and fragrant best describes this sumptuous autumnal chicken dish, topped with a rich corn crust. You can serve the chicken just as it is, without the corn topping, and with plenty of bread to mop up the sauce. 

Order a copy of Ottolenghi’s SIMPLE here.

super soft courgettes with harissa flavour ottolenghi cookbook harissa recipes

Super Soft Courgettes from Ottolenghi FLAVOUR by Yotam Ottolenghi & Ixta Belfrage

Courgettes are cooked slowly in their own juices here until luxuriously soft. Soaked in fried garlic, harissa, chilli and preserved lemon to sponge up all those delicious flavours, this dish is best served at room temperature as part of a mezze spread.

Order your copy of Ottolenghi FLAVOUR to get the recipe.

crushed carrots with harissa and pistachios plenty more yotam ottolenghi best harissa recipes

 Crushed Carrots with Harissa and Pistachios from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

“The sweetness of carrots makes them a bestselling vegetable in North Africa, where the combination of sweet with sour and spicy is used to make some unusually harmonious creations”, says Ottolenghi who has created this sharp, hot spread combining carrots with harissa, garlic and orange zest, and contrasting it with cold, zingy yoghurt. Delicious!

Order your copy of Plenty More here.


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