If you know me well, you know I’m mad about condiments. Fermented, non-fermented, Asian, Middle Eastern, European, South American… My pantry and fridge are rammed full of these exciting, tasty, colourful and sometimes pungent jars of goodness. Food and life would be so boring without them. They can take ordinary ingredients like vegetables or tofu and transform them into something extraordinary – a game changer for those who have a phobia of anything green or are bored of having the same uninspiring food day in and day out.
Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste, the main ingredients of which are roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers, spices and herbs such as garlic paste, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, cumin and olive oil to carry the oil-soluble flavors. Then there’s Rose harissa, made with rose petals and rose water. However this version doesn’t have any red peppers in it (because it reminds me too much of Romesco), just rehydrated chilli peppers. And no caraway… I hate caraway.
Harissa is such a versatile ingredient and used extensively in mediterranean cooking. It’s perfect to smother over roast vegetables, grilled meat and fish. I also love it when mixed with orzo, parsley and feta, as a taco salsa, or on a grilled halloumi and zucchini sourdough sandwich.
HARISSA PUMPKIN AND TABBOULEH
4 slices pumpkin, skin on (about 3cm thick) 2 cups coarse bulgur wheat A generous handful of flat leaf parsley A cup unsweetened greek yogurt 2 tsp garam masala 1 Lemon Extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste
For the homemade harissa
40g dried guajillo chilies 4 garlic cloves, peeled 2 tsp cumin seeds 1 tbsp coriander seeds 1 ½ tsp fennel seeds 1 tbsp tomato paste 1 ½ tsp caster sugar 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika 2 tbsp lemon juice 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 1 ½ teaspoons salt
First, make the harissa:
Place a large frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add the chilies and garlic. Toast until fragrant and charred, about 2 minutes. Pick out the garlic and set aside. Transfer the chillies to a heat-proof bowl.
Pour enough boiling water over the chilies to cover them, and then weigh them down with a small plate. Soak for 30 minutes to soften and rehydrate, then strain. Roughly chop the chilies and add them to the bowl of a food processor.
Add the cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds to the same pan, and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle and roughly crush them before adding them to the food processor along with the chopped chilies, garlic, tomato paste, sugar, and paprika. Pulse a few times until roughly chopped and combined.
Add the lemon juice, cider vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt to the food processor. Blitz until you have a coarse paste.
Transfer the harissa to a sterilized airtight jar and keep refrigerated if not using right away. Harissa keeps, covered with a layer of oil, in the refrigerator for several weeks.
1. Preheat the Ove nat 200c. Cut 4 slices out of a chunk of pumpkin, roughly about 3cm thick. Place them on a roasting tray, drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for around 30mins or until soft.
2. 10 mins after you put the pumpkin in the oven, take them out, turn them and put them back in the oven. 10 mins after that, get them out again and cover them with harissa on 1 side. Place back in the oven for 5 mins, then turn them and cover them with harissa on the other side. Be generous. Put back in the oven for another 5-10 mins until the harissa is caramelised and the pumpkin is soft.
3. Whilst your pumpkin is roasting, make the tabbouleh and lemon yogurt sauce. Cook the bulgur wheat in boiling water until soft, drain, mix with the parsley, olive oil and salt and set aside. For the yogurt sauce, simply mix some greek yogurt with the juice of 1 small lemon, olive oil, a pinch of salt and garam masala and set aside. Remember these 2 elements can be done in advance.
4. Now to assemble. Get the pumpkin out of the oven, put some tabbouleh on a plate and place the pumpkin on top with some sauce on the side. No need to take the skin off as it’s perfectly edible and delicious when roasted.
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