Friday, July 23, 2010

Harissa Mayonnaise and Basic French Vinaigrette

As promised, I wanted to share the recipes for Harissa Mayonnaise and a basic French Vinaigrette. I learned how to make the vinaigrette from Ms. Egnell, the mother of a French student who stayed with my family during high school. I got to spend the following summer in France, Germany and Austria visiting the families I knew from the exchange program. The vinaigrette recipe has lasted as long as my memories of that summer trip . The Harissa Mayonnaise story isn't as romantic. I made it up after seeing an episode of The Next Food Network Star a few years ago. They never gave the recipe so I made it up and it's become one of my favorite condiments for sandwiches.

So I came up with a sandwich that uses both recipes.
Harissa is a Moroccan or Tunisian--let's say North African--sauce or condiment made of chili peppers, garlic and other spices. The Middle East Restaurant in Cambridge, a local icon, serves harissa on all of it's kebab plates. Every harissa is a little different but they'll all pretty caliente. The nice thing about mixing it with mayo is you can control the heat. The recipe is how I make it but you may want to start out with half the harissa if you're chicken. This "Moustafha's Morrocan" is my favorite brand that comes from a little Middle Eastern market in the South End of Boston.
I happen to be severely allergic to eggs so "real" mayo is out but I'm making this with Veganaise which will also make this a vegan dish. Don't be scared. Vegan can still be delicious! For this recipe, you'll need mayo, harissa, a lemon (for zest) and a few springs of mint. I stole this mint from my neighbor; she'll never miss it. Thanks, Barbara!
Just one quick side note. I was low on harissa so when I went to Whole Foods I picked up this bread of "harissa spread." I would not recommend it. It tastes like sun-dried tomatoes more than harissa. I'm not saying it's bad; it's not harissa. They used to have a harissa in a little yellow can that was fine but I couldn't find it.

So let's make the mayo.
Harissa Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons Mayo or Veganaise
2 teaspoons harissa (or one if you're a baby)
2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine ingredients and you're done. Refrigerate until ready to use. It's that easy!

This is what it should look like. Let's set that aside and make the vinaigrette.

Mrs Egnell's Vinaigrette
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbl. white or red wine vinegar

Combine all above ingredients and then slowly wisk in...

1/3 cup of good olive oil

When you're done, it should look like this.
This is a great dressing for any salad. I love all kinds of salads but my favorite is just a simple one made of baby greens, thinly sliced red onion, cucumber and homemade croutons. Now that I think about it, homemade croutons make anything taste good!
But let's light up the grill and make lunch. Today we're going to have a grilled eggplant sandwich with fresh tomato slices, dressed arugula greens and harissa mayonniaise.
I just throw thinly sliced eggplant on the grill, until it looks like this and then brush on a little garlic infused oil, season with salt and pepper and stack them on a plate until you're ready to make your sandwiches.
The rest I think you can figure out. Stack a few slices of eggplant on your carb of choice; today we're using a foccacia roll. Spread on some of the Harissa Mayo, a few slices of gorgeous summer tomato (or roasted sweet red peppers) and some arugula greens dressed with the vinaigrette.
Try adding about 1/2 teaspoon of rose water to a glass of fresh lemonade to complete the North African theme, and you've got a perfect summer lunch.
I had a bunch of eggplant slices left over so for dinner the next night, I spread a little of the harissa mayo on each slice of eggplant and rolled them up. These were so delicious and would be perfect on an appetizer platter of things like hummus, olives, pita chips, etc.
I hope you enjoy it!


  1. Would you stop stealing my mint!

  2. hi steve,

    i just checked airfare and it's pretty high right now otherwise i'd be a knocking on your door! this sounds and looks so good.


  3. This looks great. Now I'm hungry.....where's my grill?

  4. Could you open a restaurant or at least a food blog? Your photos are so well done. My husband wants us to move to Morocco when he retires. I'll have to try these recipes out on him.

    My sympathies to Barbara.

  5. Yum! And I'll do two tsp's on the harissa cuz I ain't no baby, baby!

    thanks Steve, Kelley

  6. Hi!
    This all sounds out of this world DELICIOUS! Sometimes on blogs I see good recipes that I have every intention on trying but hand to heart....this one I'm making this weekend!
    You're quite a talented guy with your beautiful home, fabulous gardens and a gourmet cook!
    I can't believe I've never had harissa before-it's exactly the type of sauce I love, especially since I don't use any dairy based spreads or sauces for dishes and sandwiches.

    I loved the references to being a chicken and a baby! :)

    Sarah :)

  7. Whoa...are you throwing down the gauntlet??? baby?...chicken?...I'm sorry, I had to wipe the drool off my keybooard! I'll be up there this November-have food and good wine ready!! You are so multi-talented!! I may have to live vicariously through you. Could be so much worse.

  8. I absolutely LOVE your food posts. Yum. Please keep them coming.

  9. I have been looking everywhere for that table salad dressing - your ingredients were spot on.

    BTW: nice blog


  10. Love the look of that salad - tell me, why are they still selling croutons? Homemade croutons are so easy and sooooo much better than storebought! They're especially good made from my homemade bread, but even with bakery bread they are vastly superior.

  11. I am not a vegetarian and I am not luckily allergic to eggs but this looks delicious so i am going to try it this weekend, thanks