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Harissa (Recipe: Moroccan carrot salad) {vegetarian, gluten-free}

An updated post from 2006, with a new recipe, photos and links.

Moroccan carrot salad.

The chile peppers on the can gave it away.

Before I even knew what harissa was, I knew it was hot.

Head-sweating, hair-tingling, tongue-numbing, nose-dripping hot.

And I love hot.


Harissa, one of the fundamental condiments of Tunisian and Algerian cuisine, is a blazing hot pepper paste that usually includes chile peppers, coriander, cumin, caraway and garlic. It somewhat resembles Indonesian sambal oelek, which makes a good substitute and is easy to find in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets. Especially popular in North Africa, where it's used as both spice and condiment, harissa kicks up couscous, fish, lamb stews, chicken, and bean dishes.

If you can't find harissa in your market, buy it online, or make your own. Be sure to stick to small quantities; a little goes a long way, and you'll want to use it before it loses potency. Store harissa in the refrigerator; it will keep for months.

Spicy and crispy Moroccan carrot salad, with olives and feta cheese.

Moroccan carrot salad

A variation of a salad taught to me many years ago by the Moroccan woman who owned the dry cleaner around the corner from our house, this salad tastes better if made a day ahead. Serves 4-6.


1 lb carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a box grater, or in a food processor
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp harissa, or more to taste
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
12 pitted black olives, cut in half


Place the grated carrots in a microwave-proof bowl, with 1/2 tsp water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and cook on high for 30 seconds. Uncover and drain the water.

In a small nonstick frying pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic, and stir for 15 seconds. Add cumin, salt, agave, turmeric, and harissa, and stir for 1 minute until a paste forms. Add to the carrots along with lemon zest and juice. Stir, cover the bowl, and chill for several hours or overnight.

When you're ready to serve, remove carrots from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Then, toss the carrots with parsley, feta and olives.

More recipes from The Perfect Pantry:
Braised fish, Tunisian style
Pumpkin stew
Kartoom croquettes
Backyard barbecue sauce

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Lovely carrot salad. I'll try it with sambal oelek.

You're smoking now!!!!!!

Oh wow, sounds yummy! I love hot too!

Harissa is my favorite prepared short-cut of all time. In my house we combine it with a sustainable white fish, onions, fresh tomatoes, garlic, olives, and a dried fruit on hand. Served over couscous, it is the best meal in the world!

Great-sounding recipe--I love colorful ingredients like that. (At the end of the recipe, it says "When you're reading to serve"--do you mean ready to serve?) Cheers!

I have homemade harissa and wasn't sure what else to do with it besides use in tagines! Thanks for the ideas!

Momgateway, sambal will work beautifully here.

Bellini Valli, you betcha!

Alta, this sald isn't particularly hot... but it could be. If I were making it just for me, it would be blazing hot.

Candy, that sounds delicious. But then again, most of your dishes are delicious!

Deena, thanks for the catch. I hate typos, and I've fixed this one.

Kirsten, did you make your own harissa? Try it mixed with mayo, and spread on a chicken sandwich or as a dip for cold shrimp. Then invite me to dinner to help you eat it!

I love feta and olives and this looks like a wonderful side dish. The picture is so vibrant

I love harissa!
I have a big jar of lethal harissa in the fridge that I made out of my end of season chilies.
Recently I made a Tyler version that is "watered down" with pureed roasted red peppers. A great alternative for sensitive folk.
Thanks for all the great recipe links!

I love hot also. People look at me weird when I am eating it because I have a fork in one hand and a tissue in the other lol.

Daryl, this was a great cold salad that added crunch and color to our Indian meal.

Natashya, I love the sound of "lethal harissa" -- doesn't scare me at all!

Tania, I do the same thing. If it makes my nose run, I'm happy.

That carrot salad is calling my name loudly.

I love harissa! btw, is it good for our fat? :D

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