grilled red pepper harissa

September 7, 2011

I’ve been enchanted with the idea of harissa for a while now having fallen in love with a version of it I had in Seattle at the restaurant Sitka & Spruce back in May. Harissa is a north African sauce made from chiles, spices, and olive oil which is native to Tunisia.

Here we made it with the intention of eating with fish for our Labor Day grill out and it was a surprising and entirely perfect complement to the grilled Marlin.

It’s spicy (there’s a whole jalapeño pepper in there), smoky from the cumin and coriander, and has a wonderful sweet flavour from the olive oil and grilled red peppers, which also add extra smokiness when they’re charred on the grill prior to blending. Try it this way with fish, or go for chicken or pork. We also ate it on toasted sandwiches and it would be lovely warmed with pasta.

Grilled Red Pepper Harissa
adapted from Bon Appétit


  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 large red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise, seeded
  • Olive oil for brushing plus 1/4 cup
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and barbecue to medium-high. Brush jalapeño, garlic, and red bell peppers with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill bell peppers and jalapeño until tender and charred, about 8 minutes per side.
  2. Meanwhile roast garlic in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until soft and really fragrant. Alternatively you can grill the garlic if you have a skewer to stick it on. I…did not.
  3. Peel and discard any super charred parts of skin from the bell peppers and remove the stem from the jalapeño. Transfer to a blender. Add garlic clove, remaining 1/4 cup oil, cumin, and coriander to blender. Process until a coarse puree forms. Season sauce generously to taste with salt and pepper.
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