my life just got a little spicier! sainsbury's harissa paste and mini lamb burgers

sainsbury's harissa paste with
mini lamb burgers
If you have been reading this blog for some time, you may have realised that I do like to cook from scratch. It is not that I am all holier-than-thou about ready-meals; God knows that M+S cheese and tomato pasta bake has kept me fuelled on many occasions. And I cannot imagine life in the kitchen without Lea + Perrins Worcestershire sauce

But in my experience, most of the ready-made sauces and pastes on supermarket shelves just aren't to my taste. Before I began cooking I did used to use these sorts of products, but added so many ingredients to them to improve the flavour, that I realised I might as well as cook from scratch. I also find many of these ready-made products far too sweet, a little gluey in texture and many have a peculiarly cloying and synthetic aftertaste. 

Having said all that, when I do find a good shortcut, I am more than happy to share it with you. Sainsbury’s have launched a Speciality Ingredients range, to accommodate Britain's love of pan-Asian, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. They have sourced some 30 special ingredients from around the world, intended to add some exotic magic to even the most basic of cooks. Sainsbury’s recently sent me a selection of interesting jars, which I have been happily, if slowly, working my way through.

mini harissa lamb burgers
Their harissa spice paste is a fabulous mix of pureed peppers, rose petals, chilli, lemon, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and coriander. I am reading the list of ingredients, and already feeling enchanted. I was making some mini burgers for a drinks party. I had the burger buns and some minced lamb. Nothing was simpler than combining a little finely chopped red onion, with lamb mince and a generous dollop of the paste. 

Of course, this is the type of paste that I would usually like to make, but in this case, why bother? Sainsbury’s have nailed it with a very welcome addition to my kitchen store cupboard and I know that I will be using this for many years to come!

My friends loved the mini lamb burgers, but I think this paste would work very well in lamb meatballs with a tomato sauce. It makes a perfect marinade for lamb, chicken and fish. Stir through couscous or rice for a finishing touch to a middle eastern menu and it is delicious stirred into sour cream for a spicy dip. My life has definitely got a little spicier!

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