Harissa-Rubbed Steak and Carrot Salad

Here’s a recipe using one of the trendiest hot sauces out there. My fave, Sriracha definitely reigns supreme when it comes to trendy hot sauces, but another hot, hot sauce for you to try is Harissa. Add this versatile condiment to your collection and spice up a whole slew of dishes. But let’s start with this one that is low-calorie, low-carb and gluten-free.

Harissa is a fiery and garlicky North African spice paste that’s traditionally served alongside bread, stews and couscous dishes. We made our own which is easy enough, but jarred versions work equally well—it just may not be so easy to locate.

For late October, it was well into the 80’s, so grilling outside was not a bad idea, even though it was totally dark out by the time Russ got home from work. But then, guess who’s grill decided to run out of propane less than a minute into grilling the steaks? Plan B. Turn on the broiler and finish them off—although under a gas broiler it takes just a bit longer.

A blend of cumin, cinnamon and paprika turns an ordinary side of carrots into a spicy-sweet warm salad. While the original recipe didn’t call for brown sugar, I felt the mixture was too intense (really, me??) and added a generous packed half teaspoon to mellow it out.



Harissa, the basic flavoring agent in Tunisian cuisine, is extremely versatile. Use it as a condiment for grilled meat or fish, add it to roasted vegetables, or stir into stews and soups. It is particularly good with couscous or rice. Adjust the amount of heat by increasing or reducing the number of chiles. We used 4 chiles but they must not have been too hot because we didn’t think the sauce was very fiery.


  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped (scant 2/3 cup / 90 g in total)
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 hot red chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

img_8144The charred pepper after it was blackened, cools in a plastic wrap covered bowl.

Toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in a dry frying pan.

Instead of a mortar and pestle, we used a mini-spice grinder.

The seeds are ground into a fine powder.

In a frying pan, fry the onion, garlic, and chiles until a dark smoky color and almost caramelized.

The aromatics should have a caramelized look when done.

All of the paste ingredients are blended together to finalize the harissa.


  1. Place the pepper under a very hot broiler, turning occasionally for about 25 minutes, until blackened on the outside and completely soft. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool. Peel the pepper and discard its skin and seeds.
  2. Place a dry frying pan over low heat and lightly toast the coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds for 2 minutes. Remove them to a mortar and use a pestle to grind to a powder.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and fry the onion, garlic, and chiles for 10 to 12 minutes, until a dark smoky color and almost caramelized.
  4. Now use a blender or a food processor to blitz together all of the paste ingredients until smooth, adding a little more oil if needed.
  5. Store in a sterilized jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or even longer.




  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teasoon packed light brown sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3 cups thinly sliced carrots, (about 1 pound)
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pounds skirt steak, (see Note), trimmed and cut into 4 portions
  • 4 teaspoons harissa, (see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or cilantro for garnish

Two skirt steaks, cut in half and slathered with harissa (made the night prior) are ready for the grill.

Because our grill ran out of propane, we finished off the steaks under the broiler.

After the carrots are steamed, toss them with the spice mixture.


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high. (No grill? Use your Broiler.)
  2. Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Steam carrots over 1 inch of boiling water in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. (For softer carrots, steam 10-12 minutes.) Toss the carrots with the spice mixture.
  3. Rub both sides of steak with harissa and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill the steak 1 1/2 to 3 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice across the grain. Serve with the spiced carrots, garnished with parsley (or cilantro), if desired.

Garnish your meal with some fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.

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