Air Fryers Aren't Magic, But Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms Sure Are

Air frying takes vegetables from “okay” to “outstanding” with minimal effort.

I've made no secret of my deep, unabiding love for air fryers, but while I have explained this love many times, I am constantly questioned about it, as if my feelings couldn't possibly be real. People judge, they nitpick, they accuse me of falling victim to a cult, and they explain how air fryers "actually" work, as if I mistakenly believed that all the air fryer recipes I've written were the result of magic. If you don't like air fryers and don't want to use one, that's fine, just don't be a big complainy-pants about it. It makes all of us who have already submitted to the will of the Air Fryer God Cronchoculus the Destroyer feel bad, because our hearts break knowing you'll never taste the sweet kiss of quick-and-easy air fried vegetables. We shall season these spicy harissa mushrooms with the tears we shed for you.

Vegetables make up about 80% of what I cook in my air fryer, because it's almost supernatural how it takes veggies from "okay" to "outstanding" with minimal effort on my part. They're done in a fraction of the time it takes to roast them in the oven, they cook more evenly, they get brown and toasty without becoming soggy or mushy—really, I could go on for hours. But I won't, because this recipe will make the case better than I ever could. All hail Cronchoculus, and give thanks and praise for rapid air technology!

Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous

  • 1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed (I use a mix of oyster and shiitake, but use whichever kind you like)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup harissa (I use Mina, which can be found in most supermarkets)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/3 cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4-ish cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley (no need to be precise)
  • Kosher salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • Fancy salt and olive oil, for finishing (optional)
  • Begin by preheating the air fryer to its highest setting. Use a vegetable peeler to cut strips of zest from the lemon, doing your best not to remove too much of the white pith. (If you do, lay the zest yellow side down on a cutting board and use a sharp paring knife to scrape off any excess pith.) Cut the lemon into quarters, set three pieces and the zest aside, and juice one piece into a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise and harissa, stir well to combine, then add the mushrooms and toss well. Air fry for 12-15 minutes—jostling occasionally to move the mushrooms around—until deeply brown with crispy edges.


    After you put the mushrooms in the air fryer, make the couscous: Put the olive oil and garlic into a medium saucepan and cook over high heat until the garlic begins to brown. Stir in the strips of lemon zest, couscous, hot water, and a hefty pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    When the mushrooms are done air frying, move them into a large bowl, then put the couscous into the air fryer and spread it out as much as you can. Air fry for 7-10 minutes, shaking now and again, until the couscous is lightly toasted. Add to the mushrooms and toss well, then add the parsley and salt/pepper to taste. If desired, drizzle with good olive oil and a sprinkling of excellent salt before serving with remaining lemon wedges.