Fresh Chile Harissa

When it comes to the farmer’s market, I am such a sucker for a deal. One of the organic farms was offering baskets of beautiful deep red mixed chiles for $1 a basket. $1 a basket! How could I pass that up, I ask you?

Harissa has been on my wish list for a long time. Bright red chiles, pungent garlic, bright lemon, and a backbone of cumin and coriander… I just had to try it. Most recipes I found called for either roasted red peppers in the mix to tone down the chile heat, or used dried chiles for that brick-red color. I split the difference by carefully de-seeding the fresh chiles. The resulting harissa is incredibly bright, fruity, and nicely spicy without that throat-searing heat.

I am going to eat this stuff on everything. This weekend I plan on going back to that farmer and cleaning him out of beautiful red chiles to make a huge batch of harissa. I will be giving out jars of this to everyone I know.

Fresh Chile Harissa

10-12 fresh red ripe chiles: cayenne, jalapeno and serrano
1 tbl ground cumin
1 scant tbl ground coriander
juice of 1 lemon
1/3- 1/2 c olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
2 tbl tomato paste
1/2 tsp sea salt

Cut off the stem end and slit each chile with a sharp knife down the length. Carefully scrape out the seeds and the ribs connecting the seeds to the wall of the chile. This is where the majority of the heat comes from. Discard the seeds. Cut each chile into a few pieces.

Combine everything in a blender with 1/3 c olive oil. Blend in pulses, stopping often to scrape down the sides. Only add enough olive oil to make everything blend smoothly. Taste for salt. Let chill in the fridge for a few days before serving.