Harissa is one of my favorite spice blends to cook with. If you’re not familiar, harissa is a spice & pepper blend from North Africa and is traditionally found in paste form (although I love the dry spice version). It has a warm and spicy flavor that I just love, and it works well with dishes made with other North African flavors like garlic, parsley, mint, paprika, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon, dried apricots, prunes and Ras El Hanout. Ras El Hanout is another classic North African cooking essential, a complex spice blend often consisting of coriander, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, all spice and cardamom, to name just a few.
I make bean spreads and hummus-style dips on the reg because they’re a perfect way to add flavor, moisture and texture to plant-based and vegan meals. I’m constantly playing around with ingredient combos and flavor profiles, and this Harissa-twist on hummus immediately stole my heart. To bring out the flavor of the spice blend, i sautéed it with shallot and olive oil, and I balance out the spice with a touch of sweetness from either honey or maple syrup. I then just add the harissa-shallot mixture to my typical hummus ingredients and blend everything together until smooth.
I like to serve this hummus as an appetizer for entertaining because it keeps things interesting while still serving something familiar and crowd-pleasing. In this case, definitely reserve some of the shallot-harissa oil for garnish (it looks very impressive). But most often this Harissa Hummus is just another member of my weekly meal prep roster and I use it in countless ways depending on what else is prepped. I especially like it in wrap form with roasted cumin-lemon tofu, lots of fresh veggies and a parsley-mint vinaigrette.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon harissa powder (or to taste, 1 tbs is mild)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon honey or sweetener of choice
1 can chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved!)
1-2 cloves garlic, to taste, roughly chopped
1/4 cup tahini (pure sesame seed butter)
1/4 fresh lemon juice
Sauté shallot in olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt. When soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes, add sweetener, harissa and cumin. After about a minute (careful not to burn), remove from heat.
Blend all remaining ingredients with the harissa-shallot mixture until smooth. Add reserved chickpea liquid to achieve desired consistency (or water or olive oil). Add salt to taste.