Harissa Shrimp with Cilantro Garlic Yogurt Sauce

If you watch any amount of the Food Network, you’ve probably heard of harissa.  I believe I first heard of it on an episode of “Chopped,” where as I recall it was part of a basket that included Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, a quail egg, and a handful of Vicodin … or did I dream that? In any case, I’ve been wondering what it tasted like ever since.  Per Wikipedia, it originated in North Africa and “contains piri piri (a type of chili pepper), serrano peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander, red chili powder, caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil.”  I found it at my nearby gourmet food store for $3; you can ask for them to carry it at your local grocery store if they don’t already!  It’s spicy but flavorful– more dimensional than your average hot sauce.  I don’t have a high tolerance for heat so for me the amount used in this recipe was just the right amount — if you’re a heat-seeker you may want to add some more harissa, or double the marinade and pour over the shrimp before serving!  The yogurt sauce isn’t very flavorful on its own, but when paired with the spicy shrimp it tastes amazing.  Best of all … it’s healthy!  I’m looking forward to incorporating this spicy paste into more dishes in the future.

What you need:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon harissa
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
generous pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound shrimp (26-30 ct), peeled/deveined

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt
1.5 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup cilantro leaves

1. Stir harissa, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and cumin together in a small bowl.

2. Pour over peeled shrimp and toss.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

3. While the shrimp is marinating, turn on your broiler or grill and start on the yogurt sauce.  Put garlic, cumin, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cilantro in a food processor and pulse until coarsely pureed.

4. Add puree to yogurt in a small bowl and stir to blend thoroughly.

5. Now that the 15 minutes are up, put the shrimp in the broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and slightly curled up.

6. Serve with yogurt sauce.  I paired mine with a a curried quinoa, but it would work with almost any side you can think of!