Skip to Content

What to eat with harissa?

Sharing is caring!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Blend of smoky and tangy, harissa varies in form and is often used as a hot sauce or paste. Made from roasted fresh chilis to loose sauce, it can be similar to chili paste or tabil, which is why only small spoonfuls amount to fiery flavor.

It has a deeper flavor with a hint of citrus notes that are different than chili powder. Typically made with hot chilies and served with couscous, but there are other foods to serve with harissa.

What to eat with harissa? This spice paste is inspired by North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and often included in lentils, tray bake, chickpea salad, salmon with couscous. 

Harissa is great with roasted vegetables or as a rub on fish. Other dishes that goes well with harissa are hummus, grilled chicken, cocktails, stews, and sauces. 

When roasting vegetables, especially sweet veggies like squash, carrots, and fennel are great ingredients to pair with harissa to balance spicy and sweet tastes.

For barbecue, harissa is a great spice or paste to rub on chicken, lamb, and fish.

As a result, harissa is the perfect additive for bold flavors because it’s spicy, savory, and versatile. It can be used as a condiment in sauces, dressings, marinades, and even flatbreads. 

Unlike other spicy spreads, harissa isn’t overbearing or overpowering. However, this flavor profile is pretty specific. So, what’s the best way to serve harissa? Here is a quick look into this incredible ingredient.

What do you serve harissa with?

Harissa is often served as a condiment alongside couscous or tagine dishes. As a matter of fact, it can also be added to soups, stews, spreads, or sauces. 

When craving something sweet and spicy, try using harissa in barbecue sauce for grilled chicken or pork chops for more complex flavor. The smokiness of the grilled meat will bring out the earthy notes in the spice even more.

For vegetarians, harissa would be great in falafel or salad dressing. It adds heat to the dish and gives a gorgeous red color.

Whether harissa is prepared for meat lovers or vegetarians, there are specific ingredients that pairs along than the other. 

Here are list of foods that pair well with harissa:

  • Fruits: pears, apricots, dates, lime
  • Vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, corn, brussels sprouts, eggplant, cauliflower, aubergine, parsnip, potatoes, green beans
  • Nuts: almonds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts
  • Meat: beef, pork, chicken, lamb, eggs
  • Seafood: shrimp, sea bass, prawns, mussel, cod, salmon
  • Cheese: goat cheese, Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar, havarti
  • Grains: couscous, lentils, quinoa
  • Legumes: chickpeas, butter beans, white beans, red kidney beans, cannelloni beans
  • Dairy: Greek yogurt, heavy cream, sour cream
  • Rice: basmati, jasmine, brown rice
  • Condiments: olive oil, marmalade, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, sea salt

What herbs go well with harissa?

When looking for herbs to pair with harissa, look no further than the common herbs in North African cooking, especially herbs that go well with cumin and coriander. These two spices are used in many dishes throughout North Africa, and they play well with the spices in harissa.

Other herbs that go well with harissa include:

Use these chopped fresh herbs to add color and texture to sauces or sprinkle them over cooked dishes before serving. Instead of fresh ones, dried herbs can be used to flavor meat dishes like kebabs or stews.

What flavor goes well with harissa?

Harissa is made from spices, including chili peppers, garlic, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. It also has a smoky flavor from roasting the ingredients before being ground into powder. 

Because of harissa’s complex flavor profile, there are a lot of different dishes that go well with a dash or two.

The spice from the chili and smoky taste from the roasting process pairs well with light seafood. As a result, seafood is an easy way to start experimenting with harissa because it’s such a versatile flavor profile. 

For instance, it works incredibly well as a rub for fish or sauce drizzled on top of shrimp. 

Harissa also has an earthy quality, which means it goes well with other types of earthy flavors such as mushrooms, fresh and dried herbs like thyme and oregano, and vegetables like carrots or radishes.

Pairing harissa with sweet onions can help tone down the heat while keeping the smoky flavor. If looking for a bigger kick, try combining it with even hotter peppers like jalapeños or serranos.

Here are classic ways to combine flavor with harissa:

  • harissa + maple syrup + carrots
  • harissa + chicken + chickpeas + butter
  • harissa + coconut + leeks + carros
  • harissa + green beans + almonds
  • harissa + poached eggs + red pepper
What to eat with harissa

Eat with Harissa: Conclusion

Adding a dash of harissa will give a serious kick of heat to any recipe. It’s no wonder that this unique blend is used throughout the Mediterranean and North African cuisine.

Use it with egg dishes, hummus, roasted vegetables, grilled meat, seafood, cocktails, and sauces. 

Due to its smoky and spiciness, harissa goes well with sweet vegetables such as  squash, carrots, and fennel, which gives sweet and spice to every bite with interesting flavor along the way.

Harissa is also used in barbecue or marinating meats such as chicken, lamb, and fish. From lentils to salad and couscous, there are various sides and dishes that benefit from a spoonful of harissa.

The bold flavor of harissa does not end in the recipe, it also complements well with cumin and coriander. Furthermore, fresh and dried herbs like cilantro, mint, thyme, oregano, dill, rosemary, and basil. 

When looking to add a spicy kick to your favorite dishes, try harissa and evaluate the ingredients and consider harissa for that spicy note with a unique flare.

Sharing is caring!