Mini Harissa Lamb Burgers and a Chickpea, Tomato and Harissa Salad

If you find it difficult to get hold of harissa paste, umami paste or galangal in your local supermarket, here's some good news. Sainsbury's have just launched their Speciality Ingredients range - over 30 products from all over the world (including Japan, the Middle East and the Mediterranean) to help you cook up your favourite dishes.

They sent me a small sample from their range to try out: harissa paste, mirin, chipotle paste, porcini mushroom paste and tom yum paste. The first one I decided to tackle was the harissa.

Harissa is a deep red-coloured paste made from red peppers, chillies, garlic and spices including smoked paprika. It's great for adding a spicy, smoky flavour to almost anything, although it works especially well with lamb, chicken or fish. It has a flavour a bit like chorizo, only spicier.

I decided to add a spoonful to some lamb mince and make some little mini burgers for the kids. They loved it - I was cautious with the harissa, but if you want to add more just go ahead and be guided by your own spice tolerance.

I also decided to pep up a salad made with chickpeas, tomatoes, lemon juice and parsley by stirring through some harissa paste. The smokiness of the harissa worked brilliantly with the soft nutty chickpeas and then the sweet, ripe tomato. You can't waste the juices either - mop them up with some crusty bread. I reckon this would be a great salad to try with roast chicken, too.

Mini Harissa Lamb Burgers
Makes 8
  • 400g lamb mince
  • 1 heaped tablespoon harissa paste
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil, for frying
  • rocket leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 8 mini bread rolls
  • mayonnaise
  1. In a bowl, mix together the lamb mince and the harissa paste with your hands, ensuring it is evenly covered. Don't mix too much, just until it's combined. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large, shallow frying pan. Form the lamb mixture into 8 small patties and fry for about 4 minutes on each side, or until done.
  3. In the meantime, split the rolls and spread a little mayonnaise on the bottom half. Place a tangle of rocket on top and then a slice of tomato. Carefully balance the cooked lamb burger on top, replace the top half of the bun and then secure it with a wooden skewer. Eat straight away.

Harissa Chickpea and Tomato Salad
Serves 4-6
  • 1 x 400g can chickpeas
  • 1 tomato
  • small handful fresh parsley
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon harissa paste
  1. Drain the chickpeas and tip them into a serving bowl. Chop the tomato and parsley and add to the bowl. Mix well to combine.
  2. Squeeze over the lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and season with a good pinch of salt. Spoon in the harissa paste and toss everything well to mix. Check for seasoning and then take to the table.

How do you use harissa? Do you have any interesting recipe ideas for it?