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Turning a hot pepper paste into something deliciously complex and a tad sweeter
Milk Street Bowtie Harissa

Harissa

15 minutes

Free

We tried the spices and chilies both toasted in a dry skillet and fried in oil. Both methods heightened their flavors, but oil was best because the ingredients’ flavor compounds are oil-soluble. Adding the garlic to the mix mellowed its bite, and leaving the cloves whole ensured they wouldn’t burn (and meant less prep work). For the acid, we favored white balsamic vinegar for its mild acidity and slight sweetness. Lemon juice or white wine vinegar sweetened with a pinch of sugar is a good substitute.

4 dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into rough pieces
½ cup neutral oil, such as canola, rice bran or grapeseed
6 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry
½ cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Cayenne pepper
Ingredients
  • 4

    dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into rough pieces

  • ½

    cup neutral oil, such as canola, rice bran or grapeseed

  • 6

    large garlic cloves

  • 1

    teaspoon caraway seeds

  • 1

    teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1

    cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry

  • ½

    cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry

  • 1

    tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

  • Kosher salt

  • Cayenne pepper

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Harissa

Get Ready to Cook

about 1½

cups

15 minutes

Tip

Rather than toast and rehydrate dried chilies, fry them in oil; it softens them and better draws out their oil-soluble flavors.

Ingredients
  • 4

    dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into rough pieces

  • ½

    cup neutral oil, such as canola, rice bran or grapeseed

  • 6

    large garlic cloves

  • 1

    teaspoon caraway seeds

  • 1

    teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1

    cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry

  • ½

    cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry

  • 1

    tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

  • Kosher salt

  • Cayenne pepper

Step 1 of 2

Cook the Chilies and Herbs

4
dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into rough pieces
½
cup neutral oil, such as canola, rice bran or grapeseed
6
large garlic cloves
1
teaspoon caraway seeds
1
teaspoon cumin seeds

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the chilies, oil, garlic, caraway and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is light golden brown and the chilies are fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Step 2 of 2

Make a Paste

1
cup drained roasted red peppers, patted dry
½
cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, patted dry
1
tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
¾
teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste

Carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the red peppers, tomatoes, vinegar and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Process until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.


Season with salt and cayenne to taste.


Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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Done!

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