amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Harissa carrots

POSTED ON February 26, 2010

adding harissa

My mother and sister have been telling me about a mysterious harrisa couscous salad for years and I’m never sure what they’re talking about. They say,  “yes, you know the one we make in a glass bowl with layers of roasted vegetables, cous cous and arugula.”  I swear I have never seen nor eaten it.

And based on their description, I feel like I’ve missed out on something, a faze of my mother’s cooking; certainly, a food memory which in turn makes me feel like I need to catch up, get filled in and most of all eat it.

Harissa has come up many times over the years (as you may have guessed) and finally, a few weeks ago I got my mother to tell me what she does so I could make my own version of her salad for a client (don’t worry, I will make it again in summer, so you all don’t have to feel left out too!).  I had some leftover harissa and used it to dress carrots that I had just steamed to serve with a quinoa tabouli (you’ll see that recipe at some point as well), olives and humus. Delicious.
I started looking around for harissa recipes and came across endless variations made with different kinds of dried chilies, some with coriander, some with garlic. What I like about my mother’s is that it’s super quick and virtually mess-free.

I decided to add some of the above ingredients and to also lightly toast the seeds.

toasted spices


cutting carrots

harissa carrots


1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 to 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you like it
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of half a lemon
Large pinch sea salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Warm a skillet over a medium flame and add the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds, toast for 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer into a spice grinder and grind until fine.

Place ground spices in a bowl and add the cayenne, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir and then drizzle in the olive oil, stir until smooth. Store in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Makes about ½ cup

Harissa carrots

6 medium carrots, peeled if they don’t look they’re best.
1 tablespoon harissa
Mint or parsley to garnish

Cut carrots in large matchsticks; place in a steamer basket and steam 3 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl and while still warm, add the harissa and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with mint or parley and enjoy warm or room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side.

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