In my recent post about Mary Sharp's hot sauce, I was complaining that France does not have any decent hot sauce. French cuisine, while wonderful in many respects, is severely lacking in the spicy department. The French are so resistant to spice that they don't have names for most kinds of hot pepper. In fact, if you ask someone at the market what kind of hot pepper they are selling, they will most likely respond by telling you the color of the pepper (Camille will back me up on this).
A couple do have names: there's the piment d'Espelette, but it comes from the Basque country, which - if you ask the Basque - is hardly part of France, and the pili-pili pepper, a South American pepper, which the French only know about because it's often used in African cooking. That pepper is better known to us as the kind they use in Tabasco sauce. Pili-pili is actually the African name for it, which the French have taken, just as we've taken jalepeño, habanero and many others from our neighbors to the south.
This brings us to the one kind of hot sauce you can easily find in France: harissa. Harissa is a North African chili paste that's common in Algeria and Tunisia (places where lots of French immigrants come from). It's made with different hot peppers and spices depending on the region. When I saw this this Carrot Salad with Harissa Feta and Mint over at Smitten Kitchen I knew it was perfect for the bundles and bundles of carrots that are already starting to grace our CSA and probably won't let up all winter. Don't get me wrong, I like carrots, but even if you're not crazy about them and/or sick of them, this recipe will get you excited about them again!
If you can't find harissa where you are, try using your favorite hot sauce in this recipe.
Harissa Carrot Salad with Feta
5 large carrots (about 1 1/3 lbs or 600g)
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp harissa (or to taste)
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup of feta (about 100g)
Peel and grate the carrots and put in a large bowl.
In a small frying pan, heat 4 Tbsp olive oil and cook the garlic, cumin, harissa and sugar about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots with the remaining Tbsp olive oil and mix well. Add the herbs and stir. Leave to infuse for at least an hour and stir in the feta before eating.