Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Preserved Lemon Obsession, Part II: Tunisian Sandwich with Homemade Harissa

 
My obsession with preserved lemons began here, and it came about thanks to a job I got working in the kitchen of a vegan cafe. I was tasked with coming up with a sandwich, and rather than settle for yet another incarnation of the ubiquitous veggie wrap, I wanted to make something surprising.  Something different. Something just bursting with seasoning and spices - something that,  let's face it,  you don't always find at a vegan eatery.

And then I read about the Tunisian sandwich. Now, a traditional Tunisian sandwich contains tuna and egg - obviously not vegan. But I thought that the other ingredients that are often used - potatoes, capers, black olives, harissa, and of course, preserved lemon - sounded as if they'd hold up pretty well on their own.

Oh my. Not only do they hold up, they positively sing. That may sound dramatic, but the flavor combinations in this sandwich  - spicy, salty, savory, buttery, tangy - are so balanced and so incredibly satisfying, that even the carnivores I tested it out on wanted seconds.

Truth be told, my job at that cafe only lasted one day. Let's just say I found the schedule, overall approach, and, most importantly ...  attitude towards hygiene less than ideal. Oh well. No hard feelings - without that job, I may never have discovered this sandwich, and frankly I can't imagine my life without preserved lemon!

Making your own harissa saves a bundle of money, and lets you control the spice level. I didn't make mine as fiery as I usually would, because I was testing the sandwich out on a bunch of people, and I didn't want to alienate anyone with my pepper-head tendencies.  So adjust accordingly.  This makes enough for a bundle of sandwiches - store the extra in a jar with a little olive oil on top to keep it from drying out.

For the harissa:
7 dried & seeded New Mexico Chiles
5 dried & seeded chiles de arbol
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp caraway seeds, ground
2 tbsp garlic
2-3 tbsp olive oil

Soak the chiles in hot water for about 30 minutes until they're soft. Pat dry. 
Whiz everything together  in a food processor until you achieve a paste-like consistency.

For the sandwich you'll need (this makes two 6" sandwiches with some filling left over):
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
handful of capers
handful of pitted Nicoise olives
2 tbsp preserved lemon
olive oil
one 12" French baguette
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Boil, peel and chop the potatoes into chunks.  Mix in the preserved lemon and about a tbsp of olive oil; add salt and pepper to taste. Remove some of the crumb of the baguette to create a space for your potato filling. Drizzle olive oil on one side, and generous amounts of harissa on the other. Next just add the potatoes, and top with capers and pitted Nicoise olives.

While you can certainly choose to include tuna and hard boiled eggs to make a more traditional version, I promise that you won't miss the meat in this hearty sandwich!





34 comments:

  1. oh wow awesome sandwich love blog and flare for international cuisine your a star Rebecca

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  2. Trix
    I wish I could have been at that restaurant! I would have ordered this sandwich in a heartbeat!
    I am very fond of potatoes and when we were kids, we used to mash potatoes with olive oil and eat them with pita bread!

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  3. this sounds ah-maze-ing! i'm always looking for more ways to eat vegan.

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  4. You are so clever with these amazing sandwiches they look awesome...why are you not opening a vegan resturant anyway! Where poppa trix we need to talk! lol

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  5. I love the idea of homemade harissa... I've got to try it!

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  6. How about a vegan/medieval themed cafe? :)

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  7. hey Trix, even with no meat, I know I would love this ... your harissa sounds incredible, wicked and great

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  8. Now you are really doing it... harissa and preserved lemons ??? Great sandwich idea.

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  9. You're brilliant. I know cooking is supposed to be creative and anyone can do it blah blah blah, but to actually put together something with so many layers of flavours is not something everyone can do. You're a natural, Trix!

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  10. Yum! I never knew what harissa was made of. Thanks for the lesson!

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  11. Hey Trix,
    The first time I had Harissa was in a french creperie. I was hooked. But never knew that you could make it at home. FANTASTIC!

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  12. What a fantastic way to use preserved lemons (a very understandable obsession). I'm looking forward to trying your recipe for harissa.

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  13. Never tried preserved lemon in a sandwich!! I remember you telling me about this sandwich, very moroccan and I have no doubts about its wonderful flavors.

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  14. I would love to have this sandwich. The flavors are just incredible the way you describe it. What a brilliant idea to use preserved lemons in a sandwich.

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  15. I have the preserved lemons. I need to get my hands on some Mexican chillies. More ideas for meatless days :0

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  16. I didn't realize vegan food could be that creative and tasty!
    I came across preserved lemons when my friend made lamb tagine, and I completely fell for it.
    I was told it's super easy to make your own preserved lemons too.

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  17. Great sandwich, can't wait to make one of my own!

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  18. youre very creative Trix! all those flavours I can just imagine together...iv never tried preserved lemons but have heard people sing praises about them ...n now u! this is a must try! tq n tq for visiting n the lovely comment ;))

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  19. Very inventive - and like zurin (in the comment above mine), I'm esp impressed with your use of the preserved lemons. I always wanted to make them and now here is an excellent reason: Tunisian Sandwich a la Trix!

    Eat with joy!
    ~Cleo

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  20. Sounds like a fantastic sandwich! And, I think I have all the ingredients on hand. This will make a great lunch.

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  21. Good vegan eating there! Too bad about that "incident" with your restaurant stint--especially the "cleanliness" part--ewww. I love the sammich (of course) for the sublime use of the Yukon--and the bread with it doesn't hurt--was that homemade, too?!

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  22. Brilliant! I really feel hungry now and I sure I will try it this weekend.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Carsten @tasteandshare
    food & wine social network

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  23. I come to your blog to be enlightened on diverse cuisine. And you always deliver! Thank you!!!

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  24. I am learning so much from your blog ! You have amazing recipes that I haven't even heard of!

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  25. Wow...so unique and wonderful sounding. I would love this! And thank you too for the harissa recipe!

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  26. hi there when you get a chance stop by my blog I have something for you :)

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  27. Great sandwich idea! The harissa is amazing!

    Regards,
    CCR
    =:~)

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  28. Wow, and I love harissa! This is great!

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  29. I have not yet explored the wonderfulness that is harissa - but I'm so glad you posted a recipe for it! Definitely will have to make it and explore!

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  30. Definitely going to have to make this next week. It looks really good.I have a jar of harissa in the fridge, but I have all the ingredients to make it as well, so I may do that.

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  31. Something new for me to try for, love the sandwich..

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  32. Fantastic pictures! Do drop by
    http://padhuskitchen.blogspot.com/

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  33. A very unique sandwich! I love the preserved lemons here and the homemade harissa sounds wonderful!

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  34. Preserved lemon always sound wonderful in anything. But in sandwich, I think even more interesting! Great recipe, sweetie. Have a nice weekend.

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