Green harissa is a North African herb and chili paste condiment that is huge on flavor. It's perfect for roasted meats and vegetables and so much more. Here is the recipe.
Around the world there are many different condiments based on the simple combination of herbs, oil and seasonings - and quite often chili peppers for flavor and spiciness. In North Africa, particularly in Tunisia and Lybia, that condiment is called Green Harissa.
What is Green Harissa?
Green harissa is a chili paste made with roasted peppers, oil, green herbs, lots of spices and a smattering of other potential ingredient, like onion and garlic paste. Like any such recipe, you'll find variations from region to region, and from cook to cook, but the results are basically the same - a wonderful condiment used to add flavor to so many different recipes.
There are versions without chili peppers, or that incorporate only mild peppers, though I love mine with a bit of spice and heat, as you might expect. You can, of course, customize it to your own preferences, and I'll discuss that in the recipe tips section below. But first...
Let's talk about how we make green harissa, shall we?
Green Harissa Ingredients
Gather up the following ingredients to make your own green harissa:
- Cumin Seeds. Or use ground.
- Coriander Seeds. Or use ground.
- Smoked Paprika.
- Ground Cardamom.
- Fresh Spinach Leaves.
- Fresh Parsley Leaves.
- Jalapeno Peppers. Chopped (or use serrano peppers for a spicier version).
- Scallions. Roughly chopped.
- Garlic Cloves. Crushed.
- Lemon Juice.
- Lemon Zest.
- Sea Salt.
- Olive Oil.
How to Make Green Harissa - The Recipe Method
First, lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. You'll notice the seeds start to turn brown and you will smell them wafting off the pan. Be careful not to let them burn, or the flavors can become bitter.
Next, add the toasted seeds along with the remainder of the ingredients to a food processor.
Finally, process until smooth. You'll achieve a consistent yet slightly chunky mixture here, depending on how much oil you prefer to use in your own recipe. With mine, you can see it is consistent yet just slightly textured.
That's it, my friends. Very easy to make, isn't it? It's just gathering up a few ingredients and processing them up in a food processor. No cooking required, other than toasting some seeds in a dry pan.
Recipe Tips & Notes
You can alter this recipe to make it your own by adding, subtracting, or substituting your own preferred ingredients. Here are some ideas.
- The Herbs. I've used spinach and parsley for my recipe, but consider other green herbs, like cilantro or mint. You can make it with basil, which isn't normally used in North Africa, but this is your recipe now. Use any green herbs you'd like and see how you like it.
- The Chili Peppers. I've used jalapeno peppers for a friendly low level of heat and spiciness, though you can easily adjust it to your liking. If you'd like a no-heat version, either omit the jalapenos or use a green bell pepper instead, or something with very low heat, like an Anaheim pepper or cubanelle pepper. If you'd like to up the heat, go with serrano peppers, which have a nice level of heat. You CAN make this with hotter peppers. You'll get great heat with habanero peppers (yes, and idea for using your unripe green habaneros) or even superhot chili peppers.
- The Oil. Olive oil is great for this, but try other flavorful oils that you love, like chili oil or avocado oil.
- Additions. Bring in other fresh ingredients that might compliment your green harissa. Some ideas include chopped sweet onion or shallots, roasted garlic instead of raw, spicy chili powder or flakes, or others that you enjoy.
How to Serve Green Harissa
There are many ways to serve green harissa. Here are a few ways you can use this wonderful condiment:
- Finishing Sauce. Green harissa is great as a finishing sauce for any grilled or roasted meats, like lamb, beef or chicken. It is particularly flavorful on fish.
- Vegetables. Spoon it over roasted or grilled vegetables to add more interest to the resulting flavors, as some vegetables can be rather boring on their own.
- Rice or Couscous. Also, swirl it into rice or couscous that you're serving as a side or a bed for your proteins.
- Soups. Swirl some into your soups or stews for extra flavor explosion.
- Marinade. Use it to marinade fish, chicken, pork, beef, even vegetables before cooking.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your green harissa. I love this stuff. It's such a great recipe, always nice to have around in my refrigerator, and super easy to whip together quickly for fast meals.
Let me know how you like it, and how you wind up using your green harissa.
Storage & Leftovers
Storing your Green Harissa in an airtight container in the fridge may allow you to store the leftovers for up to 2-3 weeks. To maximize the storage life, make sure to refrigerate it promptly.
Recipes Similar to Green Harissa
If you like green harissa, try these other chili paste condiments that are very similar:
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Green Harissa Recipe
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds or use ground
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds or use ground
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ cup fresh spinach leaves
- ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 jalapeno peppers chopped
- 3 scallions roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- Juice from 1 small lemon
- Zest from 1 small lemon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or more as desired)
- Lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the toasted seeds along with the remainder of the ingredients to a food processor. Process until smooth.
Will last 5-7 days covered in the refrigerator.
Can be made a couple days ahead.