Tag Archive for Harissa

Harissa Cauliflower Steaks

Ever since I discovered Persian food a year ago, I’ve been having loads of fund experimenting with different kinds of middle-eastern ingredients.

I think maybe the obsession started with Samin Nosrat, whose energy made me fall in love with her so hard. Her cookbook and then accompanying Netflix show, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, I both loved.

Then I got a copy of Bottom of the Pot, and that lead me even deeper down the rabbit hole.

Harissa Cauliflower

My son has a standing appointment every week in North Van, and it’s right near the Persian market. While he’s doing his thing, I browse through the market, smelling, touching and wondering “what would I make with this???”

I now have cupboards stocked with saffron, pomegranate molasses, rose water, citrus water, smoked paprika, tahini, and of course, harissa. Et voila: Harissa Cauliflower Steaks.

Harissa is a spicy tomato/pepper based sauce that you could easily swap out for tomato paste in any recipe for a bigger kick. My understanding is, it’s great in brownies, though I’ve not yet had the chance to test that theory.

Cauliflower is the perfect vehicle for “steaks.” It’s meaty and makes you feel satisfied. It’s also, let’s face it, a blank canvas, so it takes on whatever flavour you put with it.

I served my Harissa Cauliflower Steaks on a swipe of hummus, just to keep with the middle-eastern theme, and drizzle with additional pomegranate molasses (which is most akin to a balsamic reduction), a drizzle of fresh olive oil, and a sprinkling of za’atar. A few pomegranate seeds for garnish would be bomb, I just didn’t have any on hand.

Harissa Cauliflower Steaks

Harissa Cauliflower Steaks 


  • 1 whole head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste (less if you like it less spicy)
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp za’atar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a little water to thin


  1. Cut the sides off of the cauliflower, just leaving about 4″ of the body of the cauliflower. Cut this in two, making two “steaks.” You will also use the leftover florets.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together, thinning out with a little water if needed. You want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the cauliflower and get into all the nooks and crannies, but not so thin that it runs off. Place the cauliflower into the bowl and carefully coat the two steaks all over. You may need to get in there with your hands.
  3. Preheat your oven to 375.
  4. Heat a cast iron pan (or other oven-safe pan) over medium-high heat and add a teaspoon or two of oil. Place the cauliflower steaks in the pan and allow them to brown, then flip and brown the other side. This should take around 5 minutes per side.
  5. Finish cooking the cauliflower steaks in the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes, until they are the desired doneness. You should be able to poke them easily with a fork, but maybe you like yours a little more al dente, and that’s okay.
  6. Serve with rice or vegetable mash.

Red Lentil and Harissa Hummus {Vegan}

Oh hummus. It just might be the most perfect food. 

Let’s recap: 

  • It’s entirely plant-based
  • It’s cheap
  • It’s full of protein
  • It’s full of fibre
  • There are a million different variations.

Yeah! Hummus is freakin’ amazing! 

Red Lentil and Harissa Hummus

I can’t prove this without doing a bunch of work (and I’m too lazy for that), but my guess is, hummus is the recipe I have made more of for this blog than anything else. Let’s see… there was Roasted Squash Hummus, a lovely pink Roasted Beet Hummus, a pale green Edamame Hummus, and even Chocolate Dessert Hummus! Oh yeah, and then there was the time I tried the Hummus Milkshake

I feel like I need this shirt: 

Okay. I think we’ve safely established my love for hummus. Let’s get on to the task at hand. 

I’m playing with lentils a lot this week, and there will be more lentil recipes forthcoming. The thing about hummus, is that you can make it with basically any kind of pulses. People tend toward lighter beans, because the colour is more pleasing, but you could technically make hummus with black beans or kidney beans. Most people use chickpeas or cannelini beans because the flavour is a little more neutral, too, so you can make the hummus taste however you want. 

I’ve been exploring Persian and middle eastern flavours quite a lot lately. I was cooking from Bottom of the Pot for a while, and there’s this Persian Market in West Van that I am visiting now once a week. They have a great selection of middle eastern ingredients, and I buy them because I’m curious. Barberry, halva, lavash bread… and harissa. 

Harissa is a paste made from roasted chilies blended with garlic and spices. I get mine at the Persian Market in a tube, similar to how you’d buy tomato paste or anchovy paste. It’s spicy and smoky, and a little goes a long way. 

It’s great on potatoes, mixed with oil (kinda like Patatas Bravas), mixed in with mayo for a spicy dip or sandwich spread, or folded into scrambled eggs. 

Here, I used it to kick up my hummus. 

The weird thing about red lentils, is, they are quite orange when you buy them in the store, but they basically turn white or beige after cooking. So I thought I’d enhance the redness of the hummus (and also add a touch of sweetness) by adding roasted red peppers. 

The end result is a dip that’s a little sweet, a little smoky, and a little spicy. Yee-haw! 


Red Lentil and Harissa Hummus {Vegan}


  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • water
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp harissa paste
  • 2 roasted red peppers (jarred)
  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup water or aquafaba 


  • First, quickly rinse the lentils, then you need to cook them. I did mine in the instant pot, by adding the lentils, garlic, some salt, and 1/2-1 cup water to the bottom of the pot, and then cooking on manual for 4 minutes. If you don’t want to cook them in the instant pot, you can just add the lentils and garlic to about 3 cups of water on top of the stove. Bring to a boil, then simmer till the water is absorbed. You can even strain the lentils if there is too much water and the lentils themselves are cooked. 
  • Once the lentils are cooked, add all the ingredients except for the water to your blender or food processor. Process and scrape down the bowl. With the motor running, begin to slowly stream in the water or aquafaba, until your hummus gets to the desired, creamy consistency.