Harissa-Marinated Grilling Cheese
with Carrot and Zucchini Ribbons over Rice
Harissa who? That would be harissa, the North African spice blend that is used to coat the pan-fried cheese and season the sauce here. In fact, you could say the harissa explains it all when it comes to the fragrant, peppery flavor that defines this recipe. Even amongst the carrot and zucchini ribbons, garlic rice, and drizzles of hot sauce, it stands out as the flavor you’ll be sure to remember. Way cool, indeed.
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Wash and dry all produce. Zest 1 tsp zest from lemon, then cut into quarters. Squeeze 3½ tsp juice into a small bowl. Trim and thinly slice scallions, separating greens and whites. Finely mince or grate garlic.
In another small bowl, stir together sour cream, ½ tsp lemon juice, ¼ tsp garlic, ¼ tsp harissa, and 2 tsp water (save the rest of the garlic and harissa for later). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites and remaining garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in rice and ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, cover, and adjust heat to low. Cook until tender, 9-11 minutes. Keep covered off heat.
Meanwhile, cut cheese into four triangle shaped wedges, cutting diagonally from corner to corner. Place in a medium bowl with remaining harissa, 1 TBSP olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Set aside. Trim ends from zucchini. Trim and peel carrot. Using a peeler, shave zucchini and carrot lengthwise into thin ribbons, rotating until you get to the cores. Discard cores once too thin to handle.
Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (use a nonstick pan if you have one). Add zucchini, carrot, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to another medium bowl, then add remaining 1 TBSP lemon juice, 1 TBSP olive oil, and half the lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Heat a large drizzle of vegetable oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Add cheese and cook until browned, 1-2 minutes per side. Fluff rice, then stir in 1 TBSP butter, remaining lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Divide between bowls, then top with veggies and cheese. Drizzle with crema and hot sauce, to taste. Garnish with scallion greens.