02 October 2013

Golden Harissa Oil

This is a North African-inspired warmly spiced, sweet and smoky drizzling oil. It provides a no-cook all-in-one  punch of high octane flavor for so many dishes that it has become my go-to condiment as of late. I have enjoyed it drizzled over lentil soup, hummus, this soft-boiled egg, thiscreamy walnut zucchini soup, avocado toast, and steamed broccoli. And finally, along with a  few other select toppings, it landed on a miso sweet potato soup. (Recipe coming soon!)

There are two main components to the oil: harissa sauce and turmeric. Harissa sauce is the base flavor. I've talked about it several times before on the blog (for reference check out the tagine, tomato sauce, beet and carrot salad, or tacos). Unless noted, I generally use harissa sauce (as opposed to the spicier, more concentrated harissa chili paste). The sauce is typically a mix of smoked dried peppers, spices, and sometimes vinegar and tomato paste. Here in Switzerland, Manor sells a great harissa sauce. In the US, or for anyone with access to Amazon, these are two good brands: Les Moulins and Mina.

Turmeric, with its pungent orange-ginger notes, cut through the richness of the harissa and provide a beautiful sunset hue to the oil. It is a superhero in the spice world, and the primary contribution is its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Read more about it here and here. But a word of caution, turmeric stains are near impossible to remove, so don't wear your favorite white shirt when making this!

Golden Harissa Oil
Makes ~1/4 cup

Notes: Harissa sauce (a mix of dried peppers, spices, and tomato paste or vinegar) should be used instead of the spicier harissa paste. Also remember when working with so few components in a no-cook recipe, it's important to use fresh, good quality ingredients since they all show up. And finally, the spices are not water soluble, so always stir well before using.

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. harissa sauce
1 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp. maple syrup (or honey)
Squeeze of lemon (~1/2 tsp.)

In a small glass bowl, mix all ingredients with a fork until well combined. Taste and use your judgment to balance the flavors to your liking, if necessary. Maybe more lemon to elevate, more paprika or harissa for a smokier background, or more maple syrup to balance the spice...you get the picture. Store in a glass jar in the fridge. 

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