Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

Harissa Paste4 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

Happy autumn everybody! Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and brought in fall with some warm and cosy baking. Our introduction to my favourite season was a bit wet and cold, as far from warm and cosy as you can get! We took a drive up to Breckenridge, one of the most lovely mountain resorts and a favourite with skiers during the ski season.

The fall foliage was out in its glory, resplendent in amber, golds and reds. What’s beautiful about autumn in the Rockies, is that the landscape is such a blend of colours. The pines and firs stay their deep evergreen colour but the aspens, maples and oaks are all changing colours around them, dotted in between, forming gold and yellow patches and the occasional fiery red clump of the maples.

breckenridge Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

Breckenridge1 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

It was a nice trip, Breckenridge is about 90 minutes west of Denver, and so the drive was a pleasant one enjoying the colours of the season. As we approached Breckenridge however, we could see ominous clouds looming over the mountains and though it cleared up for us for the time we were there, they soon returned with a vengeance, the skies opened up, the temperature dropped, and we decided it was time to go.

Breckenridge41 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

I heard that Breckenridge got a dusting of snow this morning. I would’ve loved snow while we were there instead of the hail that pelted us! It was a wonderful trip despite the weather, but I will take cold over searing heat, every time!

Breckenridge2 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

Breckenridge3 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

Thank you to everyone who wished Laith well with his game, his team won their game and are now 3-0 for the season! We are all excited for them and hope they get better and better, and keep up their momentum for the rest of the season.

So, I know it’s fall and all, and everyone is posting wonderful baked goods filled with apples, pears and pumpkins, but I decided to go with another early autumn favourite; chillies! If you think about it, the chillies are abundant at this time and are perfect; the sunny and hot temperatures have made them extra spicy. The cooler temperatures coming in will eventually cease the chilli harvest but for now, they are easily available.

It was with this thought that I headed to my farm stand at Isabelle Farm and decided to stock up on my Sriracha chillies and Harissa chillies. I figured, I could prepare them and freeze them, and then I would have them at my disposal during winter. I couldn’t live without my Harissa over the winter and Sriracha is another staple at our house we can’t do without.

IMG 0576 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

Last week, I made another batch of my Harissa paste and this time, it was perfect! Remember last time I mentioned I wasn’t too happy with it, but this time the blend of chillies and spice was right on. I don’t know how authentic it is but I really like it!

The sweet chillies I used are definitely not native or authentic to North Africa, but they add the right sweetness and flavour. I had never heard of the Jimmy Nardello chillies until I happened upon them at the farm stand. They were labelled as a staff favourite sweet chilli, and that’s exactly what I was looking for, a sweet chilli without a red pepper taste and decided to give them a try.

Jimmy Nardellos Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

The Jimmy Nardellos are named after the Italian gentleman whose mother brought over these Italian pepper seeds to Connecticut from the village of Ruoti in the Basilicata region of southern Italy in 1887. They are authentic, heritage peppers and I guess, not easily available every where, which is unfortunate because they make a lovely Harissa! In place of them, you could use another sweet chilli pepper, maybe a paprika or cherry.

Harissa Paste 3 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

We still need some dried chilli peppers and I used the Mexican dried Arbol chiles, these are spicy! I also added one roasted red bell pepper, to tame the heat and to add another dimension of peppery sweetness, finish off with some garlic, a squirt of lemon juice, cumin, coriander and caraway seeds.

I will say, this Harissa is hot. It’s not a mild by any means and you will feel its kick! If you want a milder one, cut back on the chiles de arbol or increase the sweet peppers. What’s great about Harissa is that you can taste and adjust as you make it.

Harissa Paste3 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

A spicy hot sauce made from a variety of chilli peppers; popular in the North African countries.
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  1. 6 oz/160g Jimmy Nardello peppers (about 8) or other sweet pepper
  2. 0.60 oz/18g dried red peppers, chile de Arbol (about 18)
  3. 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  4. 8 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon ground caraway
  8. 1 teaspoon salt
  9. 1 small lemon, juiced
  10. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  1. Soak the dried chile de Arbol in hot water for about 2-3 hours.
  2. Roast the Jimmy Nardello peppers, de-seed and chop roughly.
  3. After the arbol chiles have soaked, remove the seeds and ribs from each of the chillies.
  4. Wear gloves to prevent burning!
  5. Do not touch your eyes or lips or face.
  6. In a food processor or blender, place all the peppers and chillies, garlic cloves, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  7. Blend to a thick paste.
  8. Add all the spices and blend to incorporate.
  9. Store in a jar covered with a tablespoon of olive oil.
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Harissa Paste2 Harissa | A Most Versatile Hot Sauce

I hope you try and source the Jimmy Nardellos but even if you can’t, I hope you will try this with a different type of pepper. An interesting fact about the Jimmy Nardellos, apparently the favourite way to eat them in Italy is to dry them and then fry them! I am going to get some more of them this week so I can string them up and dry them. I’ll get back to you after I’ve tried them fried.

Wishing you all a great week ahead. I am looking forward to checking out everyone’s blogs for autumn recipes. I love this season and all the lovely inspiration it brings. Happy baking and cooking everyone!

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