Black Olives With Red Pepper Harissa

Total Time
6hrs 30mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 6 hrs

These olives are addictive! They are good all alone, served with other appetizer-type foods and other dishes. Crusty bread dipped into the sauce and eaten with a good hearty soup is wonderful! I love using fresh bell peppers and hot Cherry Bomber chiles from my garden in this. The original recipe was found in the August '94 issue of Gourmet. I have improvised on olives, due to what is not available in my area; as well as some adjustments to technique, thanks to Charishma on toasting spices. Cook time is chilling, marinating time.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Drain olives, rinse under running water, place in large bowl and cover with fresh water; soak 15 minutes for canned, 4 hours for oil-cured, to remove excess salt; drain, rinse again; drain well.
  2. Toast cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a hot, dry skillet to release flavor and fragrance, being careful not to scorch or burn them. Cool.
  3. Grind the toasted seeds fine; if using a spice grinder or coffee grinder dedicated to such purposes, add dried chiles here and continue to grind.
  4. If using electric appliances, transfer finely ground spices/dried chiles to a food processor or blender here; if using a mortar & pestle, continue with it.
  5. To ground spices, add garlic, salt, and fresh chiles, if using them; grind to a paste.
  6. Add red bell pepper and olive oil and pound or puree to a paste (your preference here, I like it rather fine); adding more oil, drop by drop, if desired for consistency.
  7. Taste and add a touch more salt, if necessary.
  8. In a large, nonreactive or non-stainable bowl, stir together olives and harissa; cover, chill and marinate at least 6 hours and up to a week before serving.
  9. For best flavor, bring olives in harissa to room temperature before serving.
  10. I have kept them up to 4 weeks (if they last that long!),well covered and chilled; with a layer of olive oil floated on top.
Most Helpful

4 5

This is delicious with what ever kind of olives you like. Brought back great memories of when I lived in Israel due to the fact I had these in many Morrocan restraurants while living there. I like my Harissa with a little texture. One small piece of advice: after toasting any spice seed or nut and you intend to grind them in an electric grinder let them 1st come to room temp. This prevents them from possibly turning into "mush" instead of a fine grind. When toasting don't even blink and be sure to use your nose. I tripled the Harissa recipe except for the chilies since I like heat but not much burn. Thanks LoriLou for the memories. This is a KEEPER!