Of All the Things I’ve Bought on Amazon, This Condiment Has Brought Me the Most Joy
On a vacation in Seattle last year, I was doing some leisurely browsing in a shop with local artisan goods when I spotted a particularly beautiful jar of harissa from Washington state maker Villa Jerada. (Back when both vacationing and leisurely strolling through shops were things we did, of course.) The jar’s minimalist label design evoked North African tile work, the short ingredient list inspired confidence, and the Seattleite friend I was with raved about it. For those reasons, I was willing to check my luggage on the way home. (The jar, at six ounces, is just a little bit too big for TSA carry-on requirements.)
The bag fee alone was worth it to learn about my new favorite harissa: zippy but not incendiary, earthy with the toasty depth of brick-red dried chiles yet bright with preserved lemon, and gently textured with nubby spices. The aromas of cumin and lemony coriander are the sauce’s top notes, but a musky whisper of caraway provides depth. Spicy, complex, tangy, a little salty — I put this harissa on everything.
The only problem I had with this jar was how fast we managed to finish it. So imagine my joy to find that the perfect harissa is available on Amazon. (The price varies; right now, it’s $14, but I’ve gotten it for $12 in the past.) It’s also available on Villa Jerada’s own site, but note that you have to order $60 worth of goods for free shipping (an awesome option if you want to stock up on North African-inspired condiments and spices!).
Of all the things I’ve ever purchased on Amazon, this harissa (of which I’m on my third jar) might have brought me more enjoyment per dollar than any other item.
I’ve found uses for this harissa at every meal — and snack time, too. As a fan of savory and spicy breakfasts, I love it swirled into shakshuka, dolloped on plain ol’ scrambled eggs, or spread on an English muffin with a chicken sausage patty to make a zingy breakfast sandwich. Of course, it shines in more conventional lunch sandwiches as well, either stirred into mayo first to make a simple spread or on its own. A turkey sandwich with arugula and avocado is great plain, but transcendent with this harissa.
At dinner, the options are endless: Enjoy this harissa on roasted or baked chicken, stirred into a veggie-rich soup, or, true to its Moroccan roots, added to tagines or other stews. It’s outstanding in an easy-to-vary salad dressing, as well. But I think my favorite use might just be straight-up, as a dip for raw vegetables. I can pretend I’m fancy and call it “crudités,” but the truth is I mostly just plunk baby carrots or slices of fennel right into the jar while I’m cooking dinner.
I’ve gotta say: I am pretty psyched to be able to buy this condiment that brings a bright-tasting reminder of vacation to my table.
Do you have a favorite brand of harissa? Share in the comments below!