Recipe: Harissa Lamb Bolognese by Stephanie Zubiri


This recipe was shared to me by my friend, Stephanie Zubiri, who despite her very busy schedule, takes charge in cooking all her family’s meals at home. She was a former restaurateur (Atelier 317) and is now a food writer for the Philippine Star. Here she shares with us her homemade recipe for Harissa Lamb Bolognese.

The star of this dish is the Harissa, which is an exotic spice paste from North Africa and luckily for us, is now locally available in Rustans’s Supermarket and Santi’s Deli. The Harissa’s two main ingredients are roasted red peppers and chili peppers.  There are also a lot of  herbs and spices thrown in here like garlic, coriander, caraway seeds and vegetable or olive oil. This spice paste is quite often used in Meditteranean and Moroccan cuisines and more often than not, is used in a lot of lamb dishes.


Harissa Lamb Bolognese

A good bolognese has to be one of my most favorite comfort food of all time. My version at home always has some vegetables to give it texture and more flavor. This interpretation however takes inspiration from the flavors of the Mediterranean using a rich ground lamb instead of your usual beef ragu. There’s some nice smokey paprika in here, plus some heady cumin and a little heat from the harissa and cayenne.  Earthy Italian herbs are also added together with balsamic vinegar and red wine to give it a bit of sweetness and acidity. All these are offset by the creamy and salty crumbled feta, brightened by mint and parsley and the sunny citrusy freshness of lemon zest.

You can serve this lamb bolognese on top of classic spaghettini  or, for a fun twist, on farfalle. Consequently, you could also use the same ragu to make a mediterranean Sheperd’s Pie topped with mashed potatoes and crumbled feta, baked in the oven.

Don’t forget to add the herbs and lemon zest at the end, to turn this rich dish with many flavorful layers into a true gastronomic escape for the palate!



250g ground lamb
1 medium sized zucchini, small dice (approx. ½ cup)
1 large carrot, small dice (approx ½ cup)
2 eggplants (long thin ones), small dice (approx. ½ cup)
1 large white onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
400g crushed tomatoes in can
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon harissa paste
¼ cup red wine
1 splash of balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon Italian herbs
Olive oil, salt, and black pepper to taste


For garnish:

Feta cheese
Fresh mint sprigs, roughly chopped
Fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
Pinch of cayenne and paprika



  1. Sauté onions, garlic and eggplant in olive oil. When the eggplants are already soft, add the zucchini and carrots. Add ground lamb, herbs and spices and cook until meat is well browned. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar then when it has evaporated, deglaze again with red wine and add tomato paste, harissa, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil then lower heat and let it simmer until the sauce thickens and turns dark orange. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Boil pasta to al dente in salted water, strain and toss in some olive oil. Plate in individual bowls or on a large platter. Top with the bolognese and finish off with crumbled feta, parsley, mint, lemon zest, paprika and cayenne.

To read more about Stephanie’s food and travel adventures, take a look at her blog at

Happy cooking!

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