Add Harissa To Your Next Marinara Sauce For An Elegant, Spicy Twist

Harissa is a spicy North African paste that typically consists of hot chile peppers, olive oil, garlic, and spices. It has a smoky and slightly earthy flavor, with its level of heat varying from batch to batch. If you like the sound of it so far, then you should know about a use for harissa that you need to have on your radar: adding it to marinara sauce. Harissa is the perfect ingredient to add to this sauce because it will bring a spicy twist without overpowering its flavor. 

Besides the chile peppers, harissa mostly consists of ingredients that are already associated with pasta and marinara sauce — namely, garlic and olive oil — so the two will complement each other well. The harissa will add a depth of flavor, as well as an exciting kick of heat, making your marinara sauce a bit more dynamic and enticing when you're in the need of a flavor upgrade for your pasta.

Not only will the harissa addition upgrade the flavor, but it's super easy to do. Start by gathering the ingredients: a store-bought jar of marinara sauce and a store-bought jar of harissa. Measure out 1 cup of marinara sauce and transfer it to a bowl, then start by adding in 2 teaspoons of harissa. Taste test the mixture to see if you like the level of spice — if you want it spicier, add in more harissa. You should be able to add up to 2 tablespoons total of harissa without overpowering the sauce.

Recipe ideas for using harissa-infused marinara sauce

The harissa-infused marinara sauce can really be used with any pasta dish — as long as you're in the mood for a little extra heat. For example, maybe you want to switch up the easy weekday instant pot spaghetti and transform it into a more unique meal. To do this, simply swap out the regular sauce for the harissa version instead. Similarly, maybe you're making a veggie-filled, healthy-ish kale lasagna that you want to make more exciting — the harissa-infused sauce is the perfect way to do this.

Speaking of veggie-packed pasta dishes, our roasted vegetable pasta primavera calls for a simple oil-based sauce with garlic and onion, but this can easily be swapped out for (or combined with) the harissa marinara if you're looking for a kick of heat. Or, for another baked pasta idea, try using it in the baked creamy red pepper penne pasta. For any of these recipes, you can also always use half regular marinara and half harissa-infused marinara if you're worried about overwhelming an entire dish with spice.

Additionally, did you know that you can use pasta sauce and pizza sauce interchangeably? With this in mind, you can add some spice to a weeknight pizza — try your harissa sauce on a classic pepperoni, a homemade margherita, or even an eggplant Parmesan pizza.