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Houriya: Zesty Carrot Spread

Cooking, eating and talking food is a tradition when I get together with my sisters. We discovered Houriya while dining at Insalata's in Marin, CA and quickly fell in love with this tasty, addictive spread. --Get out of our way! Our server generously shared their recipe. The ingredients seem like nothing, but the combination of the flavors is sublime...sweetness from carrots combines beautifully with the spice from red chile, tartness from lemon, a touch of salt, and the conduit of olive oil. Serve the spread as an appetizer with crackers, sliced vegetables, including my favorite, red bell pepper strips. It's a great little colorful side for a simple grilled meat or fish or vegetarian bean dish. Make extra as it's delicious as a leftover on top of greens or as a sandwich spread.

Houriya: Zesty Carrot Spread

Recipe By: Adapted from Insalatas

Serving Size: 10

Yield: 2 cups


1 pound carrots, peeled (optional) and cut into 1" cubes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon harissa

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

3-6 tablespoons olive oil

zaatar, for serving, optional

crackers or pita bread, for serving

cucumber, zucchini, red bell pepper, cut into slices, for serving


1. In a small saucepan, combine the carrots, salt and enough water to just cover the carrots; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until carrots are cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and dry by rolling the carrots in a towel.

2. In the bowl of a small food processor, combine the carrots, harrisa, cumin, lemon juice, and salt; pulse until coarsely pureed. Do not over-process; keep the carrot somewhat chunky. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a bowl; stir in the oil to create desired texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional lemon juice or salt.

3. Serve at room temperature.


Look for harissa at your local market in the ethnic section. It's easy to make your own by hydrating red chile flakes and blending in common spices and olive oil. There are a multitude of variations of harissa recipes, which can be found on the web, including this one on the NY Times. Some are a little more complicated, like this one found on Bon Apetit.

Use a large food processor if you double the recipe.


Substitute all or a portion of the carrots for beets. Cook and blend the beets separately to prevent the beets from bleeding into the carrots.

For a true Tunisian dish, top spread or serve the spread with zaatar, a mild herb blend with thyme and sesame. Look for zaatar in a specialty food store, online or in the ethnic section of your grocer. Zaatar is simple to make with herbs that are readily available. I keep mine in the fridge to keep the flavor fresh for up to a year.

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