Harissa is a North African spice paste that’s now readily available in stores, but it’s so easy and much more affordable to make at home. It’s commonly stirred into stews, soups, and the like, but it shines when turned into a sauce for pasta.
Cut and Paste
You’ll have leftover harissa paste that you can stir into soups, stews, and curries; use to infuse veggie burgers with flavor; toss with roasted vegetables and roast for a spicy side; or stir into hummus or yogurt for a dip with a difference.
2 tsp caraway seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
Salt, for the pasta water
1 lb spelt or gluten-free spaghetti
3 Tbsp harissa paste, homemade (ingredients above) or prepared
28 oz can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green olives
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Make the harissa paste: In small skillet, toast caraway, cumin, and coriander over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully, as they can burn in a flash. Transfer toasted seeds to food processor and pulse until ground. To food processor, add garlic and pulse to finely chop, followed by remaining harissa paste ingredients. Puree until smooth. Transfer to airtight glass jar and store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
Make the pasta: Bring large pot of water to a boil and salt well. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
Make the harissa tomato sauce: Meanwhile, in large high-sided skillet, heat harissa paste over medium heat and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add tomatoes, olives, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, breaking up tomatoes as you stir occasionally.
Assemble the dish: Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss over medium heat until sauce and pasta come together. Add a splash of reserved pasta water to loosen sauce as you go, if necessary. Divide pasta among bowls, top with fresh basil, and serve.