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Villa Jerada’s Harissa No. 1 is our favorite version of this red pepper paste—native to North Africa—for its bright, complex flavor. While many store-bought varieties have a one-dimensional spicy flavor, this harissa layers acidity and fruitiness with preserved lemons, a touch of vinegar and tomato paste for a lively, tangy condiment. Moroccan-born Mehdi Boujrada, founder of Villa Jerada, based this product on his mother’s recipe; in addition to a spicy kick, the harissa balances smoky cumin and fresh mint for a complex sauce. Villa Jerada uses just enough high-quality Moroccan olive oil to make the harissa spreadable and smooth without diluting its flavor, as opposed to conventional brands that contain a high proportion of water and vegetable oil.
Use Villa Jerada’s Harissa No. 1 in sauces for a spicy accent or enjoy its complexity as a standalone sauce; in our opinion, there is very little it won’t improve. Add a spoonful to your marinara sauce, or squirt a bit into your hamburger or meatball mix for instant depth. Slather harissa on the inside of a grilled cheese made with a mild Monterey Jack or pepper jack—add a little crumbled feta if you have it. One of our favorite ways to use harissa is in our take on a North African classic, Harissa Shakshuka with Grape Tomatoes —the poached eggs are a great counterpoint to harissa’s chili heat. Mix three parts butter with one part harissa for a delicious compound butter to accompany our Yogurt Flatbreads with Flavored Butter or to put on resting steaks, chops or roast chicken, where it can mix with the meat’s juices for an instant sauce. For easy dips with just the right level of spice, try our Greek Yogurt-Harissa Dip or Spicy Harissa Dipping Sauce. You can also mix with mayonnaise for sandwiches (perfect with turkey) or egg or tuna salads. Or add a squirt to deviled egg filling or dollop on top for a contrast to the creamy filling. Top with chopped cilantro or diced pickled jalapeños.
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