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The iconic Tunisian chilli paste harissa (with its ever important caraway seed flavour) is exhilarating enough, but adding steamed beetroot and its blanched leaves will make you the hero of any party!

You will need

Serves 4

  • 1 red beetroot (with leaves attached!)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 dried ancho or kashmiri chillies, sliced lengthways and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

For the beetroot leaves

  • 1 bunch beet leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

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20 mins to prep

20 mins to cook

  1. Step 1

    Steam the beetroot until tender, making sure the water doesn’t evaporate from the pot. Remove and let cool completely, then peel.

  2. Step 2

    In the meantime, cook the garlic and dried chillies in a dry pan to release their oils. Remove the garlic and set aside, then pop the dried chillies into a bowl of water (put a small plate on top to submerge them — they’re hollow so will float to the top if you don’t weigh them down!). Leave for 15–20 min until rehydrated.

  3. Step 3

    While the dry pan is still hot, add the seeds and cook until they are smoking lightly and smelling aromatic. Place in the mortar and pestle and grind to a rough powder.

  4. Step 4

    In a blender, blitz the rehydrated and drained chillies, then add the garlic, spices, and tomato paste — blitz until it comes to a rough paste. Chop the cooled beet into quarters and add to the blender, and pulse again until it returns to a paste consistency. (Alternatively you can use a mortar and pestle for the first bit and a grater for the beetroot, and mix to combine!). Add a dash of olive oil and pinch of salt to bring all the ingredients together.

  5. Step 5

    In the water you used to steam the beet, pop in the leaves for 10–15 seconds to blanch, then shock in cold water. After a moment, strain the leaves and squeeze all the water out, as much as possible. Finely dice the leaves. In a very hot pan, place the tablespoon of oil, then the greens, the vinegar and the sugar, and cook until dry.

  6. Step 6

    Spoon the beetroot harissa into a serving bowl, place the cooked greens in the centre, and top everything with a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve with veggie sticks or crackers.

Recipe: Simon Toohey

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