Harissa and Habanero

I have devoted considerable time this past week to food; I know, that’s extraordinarily surprising.  Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in food-related “stuff” that I forget to document it for future reference (you know, “what was that recipe for habanero salsa that we liked so much?).  So, I am documenting the high points here:

I made this wonderful stuff:

Yield: about 1/2 cup

  • 15 dried arbol chiles
  • 3 dried guajillo chiles
  • 1 dried ancho chile
  • 8 – 12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp dried mint
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  1. In a medium bowl, combine 15 dried arbol chiles, 3 dried guajillo chiles, and 1 dried ancho chile, cover with boiling water, and soak until softened, about 30 minutes.
  2. Once the chiles are rehydrated, drain, reserving the soaking water. Remove the stems and seeds, and roughly chop.
  3. Using a blender, combine the chopped chiles with 8 – 12 cloves garlic, roughly chopped, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, 1 Tbsp ground coriander, 1 Tbsp ground cumin, 1 Tbsp dried mint, 1 Tbsp kosher salt, and juice of 1 lemon, and blend until smooth, adding some of the reserved chile soaking water, as needed (I used three tablespoons).
  4. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to form a thick paste. Put the paste into a bowl or jar and top with a thin layer of extra olive oil, and store in the refrigerator.  Every time you use it, make sure to cover the harissa with a bit of olive oil.

Habanero Salsa – John’s Version
Yield: About 2 cups

2 habanero peppers (recipe from which I adapted this called for 5 habanero peppers, which probably would be nicely spicy for me, but too much for Janine…this was a tad mild for my taste)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
5 garlic cloves
1 dash black pepper
salt, to taste
1 can (14.5 oz.) tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano

  1. NOTE: Remove seeds from peppers and the sauce will be have some heat and a bit of afterburn, but not be too heat.
  2. Chop and combine all fresh ingredients. Add salt, pepper, oregano and tomatoes. Blend in food processor or blender until completely mixed.
  3. Cover and set in refrigerator for about 2 hours (or more).  This will allow flavors to blend.



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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10 Responses to Harissa and Habanero

  1. druxha says:

    Yes, John we do like our picantes! 🙂

  2. Trish, I’m glad you enjoyed the Harissa…and glad to hear you’ve made the habanero salsa several times….a woman after my own heart!

  3. druxha says:

    John….finally tried out your Harissa recipe. Wow, and what a recipe it is! It was delicious! So glad you’d shared these recipes….both outstanding, and with that being said, repeat performances are in order. I’ve already made the habanero salsa on other 3 occasions since. Thanks for these.

  4. druxha says:

    Whoops…on *to* the Harissa

  5. druxha says:

    I actually used one and half. It was plenty hot, which I like. The chiles grow much hotter down here, as a rule. And springtime is when they arrived to their hottest. Good stuff, John. Thanks for posting these recipes. Definitely will be repeated! Now, on the Harissa! 🙂

  6. John says:

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Trish! Did you use 2 habaneros or more?

  7. druxha says:

    Tried you Habanero recipe. John. Wow, it was dynamite! And I mean that in the very best of ways. It was delicious! Used it on tacos de arrachera that I’d prepared. This is the level of “picante” that I enjoy. Next, I will prepare the Harissa. Will report back on that! 🙂

  8. druxha says:

    Well, this sound very intriguing indeed, John. Will prepare both, and try them as you’ve suggested. You’ll be getting my unsolicited opinion very soon! 🙂

  9. John Swinburn says:

    They are both really tasty, Trish. The habanero salsa is good on almost anything…even as a salad dressing and as a rather soupy dip for celery, mushrooms, etc., etc. The harissa is excellent on potatoes, rice, meat dishes…I think I have hit upon a couple of “magic” recipes that make almost all foods taste wonderful!

  10. druxha says:

    Uwww…these sound really good, John! Being a chile and salsa fan like yourself, I’m going to give your recipes a shot! Will report back. 😉

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