Yotam Ottolenghi has done it again. He’s written another stunning cookbook – Ottolenghi Simple. As usual, he gets obsessed with a set of ingredients and uses them liberally throughout the book. Because of his past books, pomegranate molasses has a permanent place in my pantry. This time it’s rose harissa. By adding rose petals to harissa, the pepper paste becomes a little mellower and sweeter.
Of course, you can order rose harissa online but since the best brand is shipped from the UK, it may take weeks to arrive in the US, even through Amazon. My workaround was first to add ground dried rose petals and rose water to my existing homemade harissa, but it was my last jar.
This is the time of year when I usually put up peppers – dried as in paprika, paste as in harissa, or a fabulous tomato-pepper sauce that’s really ketchup but used as a base for other dishes. So rose harissa it will be!
I came across three ways to make rose harissa: one starting with oven roasted fresh peppers, one that uses dried peppers, and a third incorporating tomatoes with the peppers. Given my recent garden cleanout, I opted for the first, adding ground dried rose petals and rose water after the harissa had been cooked and cooled. Since I didn’t have any rose water,I made some by soaking dried rosebuds in hot distilled water. (1 scant tbsp dried rose petals to ½ c hot water), Now I have a stash of rose water and rose harissa and a method for cooking my way through the latest Ottolenghi triumph.
Rose Petal Harissa adapted from mymoroccanfood,com
2 red bell peppers (about 1/2 lb or 250 g)
1-4 hot red peppers (depending on variety and how hot you want the harissa)
1 tsp plus 1 tbsp olive oil
3 unpeeled cloves garlic
2 tbsp dried food grade rose petals
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp rose water
Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut the bell peppers into quarters or thirds vertically, and remove the seeds and ribs. Similarly cut the hot peppers into large pieces. Lay the peppers skin side upon a baking sheet with the garlic. Sprinkle on 1 tsp olive oil or a little more. Bake for about an hour or until the peppers’ skin is wrinkled and the garlic is soft. You may find that the peppers cook at different rates, so remove them as needed. Place the peppers on a plate and let them cool.
Squeeze the garlic flesh into the bowl of a food processor, add the pepper pieces, reserving some of the hot peppers to add later to taste. Process to a smooth paste. Add additional hot peppers to taste,
Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil In a saucepan over low heat, add the pepper puree and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is relatively dry. Depending on the amount of liquid in your peppers, this could take a few minutes or as long as half an hour. Set aside to cool.
Grind the dried rose petals and add to the pepper puree. Add salt to taste and the rose water. Let sit for a half hour before using to let the flavors mingle. Store in the refrigerator. Some people would float a little olive oil on top to seal the harissa but I don’t bother.
Makes 1 cup