Harissa, a North African condiment, is a flavorful chili pepper paste made from dried chilies, garlic, olive oil and the toasted cumin, caraway and coriander seeds. The paste can be made from scratch or these days, purchased at most grocery stores. Harissa is a great a condiment to have on hand, because of its many uses. Swirl it into soups for a flavorful kick, whisk it into vinaigrette’s, whip it into mayo for a zesty aioli, spoon over a piece of grilled fish, or rub down a steak with it. In this recipe, Harissa paste is tossed with sweet potatoes before being roasted in the oven. It gives the sweet potatoes a little heat, depth and smokiness which sweet potatoes love. This same technique can be used to roast other things as well – cauliflower, carrots, chicken, fish, chicken, and prawns.
Harissa recipes vary according to region. It’s thought to have originated in Tunisia and spread to the surrounding countries of Morocco, Libya and Algeria. In hotter Saharan regions, Harissa takes on a smokier quality which I enjoy and couples well with sweet potatoes.
Serve the Harissa Roasted Sweet Potato Hash for dinner along side your main course, or for breakfast- topped with soft poached eggs and flavorful Merguez Sausages. The combination of this unique sausage, harissa roasted sweet potatoes, and soft poached eggs, is a marriage made in heaven.
Merguez sausages, if new to you, are North African Sausages, traditionally made with lamb ( or beef and lamb) originating from the Middle East. They have become popular street food in France, grilled and placed in a bun with harissa, dijon mustard and sometimes fries. The sausage is often seasoned cumin and coriander, and harissa – and some are spicier that others. If you have trouble finding Merguez sausages near you ( like, sadly, I did) order them online here or here …or even try making them from scratch.
You can always leave it out if you are vegetarian, or substitute chorizo.
I prefer to use mostly mild to med chilies, and just one or two hot ones. Often I will add a smoked chili or two – like chipotles packed in adobo sauce for added depth, smokiness and layers of flavor. The more variety, the more dimensions to the paste.
Make sure to toast your spices to add layers of flavor. Traditionally, the three spices of harissa are cumin, coriander and caraway seeds.
But I encourage you to be playful. Listen to what draws you… and create your own version. Sometimes I’ll add cinnamon, smoked paprika or even a little clove, deepening on what I’m using it on. Often I’ll add fresh herbs…. like cilantro or parsley.
Bring dried chilies to a boil in a large pot of water. Turn heat off, cover and let soak for 1 hour or even overnight.
Remove the seeds and stems.
Grind your spices and place in a food processor. Add garlic, salt, chili peppers, olive oil and lemon juice.
This recipe makes a cup and a half.
Taste for salt. As all harissas are different, you may need to add more salt.
When the roasted sweet potatoes come out, they are crisp, tender and flavorful.
If you are using Merguez sausages, cut and brown them in a skillet, adding onions if you like. Toss with the Harissa Sweet potatoes, making a bed for the poached eggs.
Serve with cilantro and harissa on the side.
2 medium yams or sweet potatoes ( or 6 cups ½ inch diced)
3-5 T Harissa paste ( see recipe below, or purchase store bought)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs- poached or fried
2-3 Merguez sausages ( or sub chorizo, or soy chorizo)
½ onion, sliced ( optional)
400 F oven
Scrub and dice yams or sweet potatoes ( I leave the skin on) into small, uniform ½ inch cubes. In a large bowl, toss with a few Tablespoons Harissa paste. ( Each harissa is different, so taste as you add) My version is mild so I add quite a bit…5-6 Tablespoons. Yours may be too spicy to add that much. If very spicy, dilute with olive oil. Make sure sweet potatoes are coated well. Salt and pepper to taste.
Place on a parchment liked baking sheet, making sure they are not too crowded…this will allow them to crisp, rather than steam, if touching too much. Stir after 15minutes. Check again after 10 minutes. Roast until crisp and tender.
While roasting, brown Merguez sausage in a skillet. You can either serve them whole, or sliced and folded into the hash. Saute some onions along with them if you like.
Poach your eggs, salt and pepper and set aside,
Remove the sweet potato hash from the oven, and fold into the skillet along with the sausage and onions, and mix. Gently place eggs over top, garnishing with fresh cilantro and if you like, more harissa.
make 1 ½ Cups
4 oz dried chilies – (an assortment mild, med, hot, smoked)
6-8 garlic cloves
1 T cumin seeds
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 T coriander seeds
3 T olive oil
1 ¾ tsp kosher salt
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 tsp smoked paprika ( optional)
Bring chilies to a boil in a large pot of water, turn heat off, cover, let sit 1 hour or overnight. Toast spices and grind them
When rehydrated, remove seeds and stems. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
To store, place in sealable jar and drizzle olive oil over top after each use, to preserve. It will last 1-2 months in the fridge.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:4