Harissa is a North African spice paste whichis used as the flavor base for this simple skillet-cooked meat sauce, as well as to season the couscous that’s served alongside. Scallions play a dual role in this dish—the whites are caramelized to lend depth of flavor to the sauce and the greens are sprinkled on as a garnish.
Dates (or golden raisins) lend sweetness that play off the spicy, savory notes. Neither of us are huge fans of raisins/dates in our savory dishes, so we only incorporated one ounce of golden raisins and to us, it was the perfect amount of sweetness.
While the directions were followed as written, the next time we prepare this dish, we’ll brown the meat in the skillet first, remove it to a dish, wipe out the grease, and then cook the scallions as directed, adding back the cooked lamb afterwards. The original way leaves all of the fat in the pan.
The chopped pistachios, lemon wedge and cilantro all added welcome pops of flavor as garnishes.
Harissa-Spiced Lamb with Dates and Couscous
- 1¼ cups couscous
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 Tbsp. harissa, divided, plus more to serve
- 1¼ cups boiling water
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 lb. 80 percent lean ground lamb (OR ground beef)
- ¾ cup pitted dates/golden raisins, roughly chopped
- Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped pistachios, chopped pitted green olives and/or lemon wedges
- In a large bowl, stir together the couscous, ¾ teaspoon salt and 1½ tablespoons each oil and harissa. Stir in the boiling water; cover and let stand while you prepare the beef.
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook the remaining 1½ tablespoons oil, the scallion whites and cumin, stirring, until the scallions brown.
- Add the lamb (or beef), the remaining 1½ tablespoons harissa, the dates, ¾ cup water and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally while breaking up the meat, until the mixture is saucy.
- Stir in the scallion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve over the couscous.
Recipe from Courtney Hill for Milk Street