Red Pepper, Walnut, and Olive Oil Spread (Muhamarra)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of dip
Tester tip: Aleppo pepper is a sweet, smoky Middle Eastern pepper available in flakes. It’s less hot and sweeter than “pizza” style red pepper flakes, but use cayenne if that’s all you have.
Sweet and savory muhamarra is a traditional dip with fruity sparkle from pomegranate molasses (see Ingredient Glossary page XX), crunch from walnuts and sweetness from smoky roasted peppers. It’s fantastic served in addition to hummus when you need to stir up the usual Middle Eastern style appetizer offerings. For a hint of heat I’ve added Aleppo pepper flakes but a pinch of cayenne is fine. I like to enhance the sweetness of the bell peppers with a little agave nectar, but feel okay about leaving it out if you prefer a less sweet dip.
2 red bell peppers, roasted and seeds removed or 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/3 cup dry white breadcrumbs
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo red pepper flakes or pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
1. Roast the bell peppers; remove the seeds and skins from the pepper and discard, then tear the peppers into 2 to 3 inch pieces. If using jarred peppers, drain and tear into small pieces. In a small skillet toast the cumin and coriander seeds, then grind into a fine powder in a clean coffee mill.
2. In a food processor pulse together breadcrumbs and walnuts into coarse crumbs. Add the peppers, ground spices, garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, agave nectar, sea salt, and pepper flakes and pulse into chunky paste. Stream in the olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time to smooth out the paste. Transfer paste to a shallow serving bowl and spread with a rubber spatula into a layer about 1 inch thick. Serve at room temperature with pita or fresh vegetables, or chill the muhamarra for 30 minutes to allow the flavor to blend.