Answering Your Cooking FAQs: What is Harissa Paste and How Do I Use It?
Everybody’s using it, but what exactly is harissa paste? You’ll usually find the flavourful condiment in a tiny jar at the supermarket, but don’t be fooled by its size – a small amount can pack a punch!
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What is Harissa Paste?
A smoky blend of roasted red peppers, spices, herbs and olive oil, you can use harissa paste to marinate meats, spice up oven-baked vegetables or pies and create tastebud-tingling sauces.
While hot sauces like sriracha can be packed with a surprising amount of sugar and fat, harissa paste is usually around 46 calories per tablespoon, making it a scrummy, lower-calorie alternative you’ll want to introduce to your fridge.
If you’re thinking about cooking with harissa paste, but you’re not sure where to start, you’re in the right place. All of these recipes make the most of your new-favourite fiery ingredient!
Try harissa paste with eggs
If you’ve been out for brunch lately, you might have noticed harissa on the menu. Eggs are a yummy way to mellow the heat in spicy foods, and chilli-loaded harissa paste is no exception. Taking inspiration from Turkish cuisine, our Turkish-Style Eggs are just the thing to spice up your Sunday morning menu.
A lavish swirl of yoghurt traditionally makes up the bed for this dish, so we’ve lathered our plate with a healthier, garlic-infused fat-free Greek yoghurt instead.
Once your poached eggs are ready, nestle them on top and add a drizzle of harissa paste. You can thank us later!
No matter the colour, harissa is a delicious addition to any plate. Our Harissa Eggs recipe uses green harissa paste, which gets its eye-catching shade from blended jalapeños.
You’ll usually spot harissa in the condiments aisle at most supermarkets. It typically comes in a small jar, in a choice of red or green varieties. We’ve gone greener than ever by pairing our paste with creamy, chilli-infused smashed avocado.
This recipe can be fairly spicy, which is the perfect excuse to wash it all down with a milky latte.
Use harissa paste as a sticky marinade
With a slightly tangy taste and a smooth texture, harissa paste is perfect for adding a spicy kick to homemade marinades. To coat our Moroccan-Style Chicken Drumsticks with Mint Couscous, we’ve blended a few tablespoons of harissa paste with garlic, lemon juice and fat-free yoghurt.
A little goes a long way, especially if you leave your drumsticks to rest in the smoky, Moroccan-inspired juices overnight.
While lashings of oil wouldn’t be great if you’re following a slimming-friendly diet, the small amount that comes in harissa paste is ideal for helping to seal moisture into ingredients, from meat and fish to roasted veg.
We’d say you can serve just about anything on the side of a harissa-spiced dish, but something even more heavenly happens when harissa meets couscous. Turn to pages 122-123 in your Budget cookbook, and our Sticky Harissa and Orange Chicken proves it.
This inexpensive dinner tastes like it comes from a restaurant, and you only need half an hour to put it together – smoky glaze included. Harissa is especially delicious paired with citrus, so we’ve added marmalade to give our recipe an even fruitier zing.
Speaking of tasty harissa partnerships, you’ve likely already got one of the tastiest accompaniments for harissa paste in your store cupboard…it’s honey! That’s why the Harissa and Honey Chicken from pages 162-163 of Pinch of Nom: Quick & Easy always goes down a storm.
Such an easy midweek meal, we love that the smoky flavours deepen even more if you save leftovers in your fridge or freezer for a rainy day.
Use harissa paste to spice up potatoes
It’s tough to improve upon the humble potato, but adding a dash of harissa paste really works. Next time you’re wondering what harissa paste can be used for, try our colourful Sweet Potatoes with Feta and Harissa for lunch or as a side dish. You’ll be dazzled by the tangy medley of Middle Eastern inspired flavours.
We’ve opened up our oven-baked potatoes and sealed them with a filling of crumbled feta cheese and harissa paste.
Add a sprinkling of chopped spring onions, and your delightfully simple spuds are ready to impress.
If you’re bored of ordinary potato salad, our Sweet Potato and Harissa Salad livens things up and then some.
While you’d usually find full-fat mayonnaise in traditional recipes, our version combines fat-free natural yoghurt with harissa’s magical smoky tang, to make every bite pop.
You need to try it with a takeaway-style grilled meat dish – Minted Lamb Kebabs, anyone?
If chilli con carne is always on your midweek meal plan, try giving Harissa Chilli with Crispy Potatoes a whirl for a change.
Instead of boiling a batch of rice, leave finely-chopped potatoes to crisp up in the oven, while you rustle up a rich, harissa-spiced pot of fiery, flavoursome, slimming-friendly turkey mince. You can find the full recipe on pages 68-69 of Pinch of Nom: Enjoy.
Try harissa paste on a meat-free Monday
With an easy-to-use pot of harissa paste on standby, you’re never far from creating a tasty meat-free Monday menu. Spice is a great way to add depth to vegetarian dishes, and our Vegetable Couscous is no exception.
We’ve tossed in harissa paste, zesty lime and crumbly feta cheese, so that it’s bursting with just as many flavours as there are colours on the plate. You can rustle it all up in 15 minutes, including the prep, for only 153 calories per serving.
Now that we’ve boxed off lunch, what’s for dinner? Ordering our Spiced Halloumi Burgers is always a good idea. The longer you leave your halloumi ‘burgers’ to soak in the harissa, honey and lemon marinade, the better.
You don’t want to fry your squeaky halloumi slices for more than a couple of minutes – the honey can make them catch really easily, and while we love smoky flavours, a burnt edge isn’t quite the same!
Pile them high with salad and a dollop of dressing. We’ve whipped together yoghurt, lemon juice, mint and coriander to complement our harissa marinade, and cool things down a bit.
To fill out your veggie burger-night feast, a crispy serving of fluffy-in-the-middle Air Fryer Rustic Potato Wedges is sure to keep everyone at the table happy.
While there’s (thankfully!) no harissa paste in our Syrupy Cinnamon Figs with Greek Yoghurt, it would work really well to round off a smoky, harissa-spiced meal.
To get the best from figs, cook them until juicy with maple syrup and warming cinnamon, until you’re left with a mildly-spiced, syrupy-sweet topping for low-fat Greek yoghurt (or our slimming-friendly Custard).
We hope we’ve helped you decide what to make with harissa paste first
Whether you’re spicing up your eggy breakfasts or turning up the heat at dinnertime, we can’t wait to hear about the fun you have in the kitchen with harissa paste. The best place to share your photos is in our Facebook group, where we have almost 1 million lovely community members waiting to support you on your slimming journey.
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