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Steamboat Magazine

All Hail Harissa

10/05/2018 04:13PM ● By Alesha Damerville

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Dipping sauces are celebrated around the world. While ketchup might be the most popular selection in the U.S., harissa could be the close runner-up worldwide. 

This roasted pepper paste has a lot to offer as a marinade, as a flavor booster and as a base for curries and stews, as well as a condiment in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya. “They use it like ketchup. They use it with everything as a side dipping sauce,” says Chef Joe Campbell at Bésame. “It also adds a really nice smoky flavor to whatever you’re marinating.”

Create your own harissa at home using this recipe provided by Bésame.

Bésame Harissa

6 chili de arbol, dried and toasted

6 red bell peppers, roughly chopped

4 Fresno peppers, roughly chopped

4 red tomatoes, cut into quarters

1 whole bulb of garlic, cut in half along the equator (do not peel the garlic)

1 yellow onion, roughly chopped

8 thyme sprigs


¼ cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon caraway

1 tablespoon coriander seed

2 tablespoons honey

¼ cup sherry vinegar

Water- just enough to help blend

Approx. 3 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Set oven to 425 degrees

Start by soaking your dried chile de arbol in hot water until soft. Remove the seeds and set aside. Take all cut vegetables and toss in vegetable oil together. Lay them out on a baking sheet being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Place thyme sprigs over the vegetables. Roast vegetables until very dark, almost burnt, about 35-45 minutes – this is important. Some of the vegetables will be burnt and that's ok. Remove roasted vegetables and set aside to cool. 

Lightly toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds and caraway seeds until fragrant. Blend spices in a spice grinder, set aside.Take all remaining ingredients, chili de arbol, peppers and spices and combine in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Enjoy!

For more information on Bésame visit

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