Muhammara (Syrian Red Pepper + Walnut Dip)
Kinda sounds like an evil laugh, no? Muah-ha-ha-ha-mmara!
Muhammara is a Syrian dip that starts with a base of roasted red peppers and toasted walnuts (I mean, you know it's going to be good already, right? Those are two extremely delicious things.). With plenty of heat, garlic and a sweet note, it's got a complex flavor without actually being complex to make. It's especially easy when you cheat and buy your roasted red peppers in a jar.
Traditionally, muhammara is served with bread as a dip or spread kind of like hummus. Or it's spooned on top of meats and fishes. I like it both ways, though you'll want to double or triple this recipe for a crowd because it only yields about 1.5 cups and it'll go fast. This isn't traditional, but I've also thinned it down with water before and then used it as a salad dressing, so really there are a lot of muhammara opportunities out there for you.
On a more serious note, I don't think I can make evil laugh jokes or talk about a delicious Syrian recipe while totally ignoring the fact that there's a really shitty civil war that's been happening in Syria for the last seven years. A lot of people still need a lot of help. Here are 15 ways you can directly help Syrian refugees.
paleo, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian (whole30 with omissions) | yields a little over 1.5 cups
- 1.25 cups raw walnuts
- 16 oz. jar of roasted and peeled red bell peppers, drained and rinsed (or roast your own, if you prefer)
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or pressed
- 1.5 T lemon juice
- 1 T honey or (more traditionally) pomegranate molasses
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- salt, to taste
- Toast your walnuts on the stove. Heat a dry non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook for 2-5 minutes, stirring almost constantly until they are nice and toasty (but obviously not burned).
- Put everything but the olive oil into the food processor and blend.
- Once everything is pretty smooth, drizzle in the olive oil slowly while the processor is still running.
- Taste. Adjust spices and add salt level if needed (you may not need any salt if you use the jarred peppers).
- Serve as a dip or condiment with pretty much anything: bread, meat, fish, veggies, whatever you like!
- You could also buy toasted walnuts as a shortcut. Or you could toast them in the oven on a dry baking pan if you are making a larger batch of muhammara and using more walnuts than just the 1.25 cups. Your mission: 350 F for about 5-10 minutes, stirring/tossing them once or twice during the bake to make sure they are evenly toasted and not burning.
- Authentic muhammara uses pomegranate molasses and not honey, but I realize not everyone is married to a half-Iranian man and has pomegranate molasses sitting in their fridge like I do. If you do want to pick some up, it's available at Iranian and Middle Eastern markets, as well as the global sections of large grocery stores, or online. It usually has added sugar, so it's not paleo.
- You could leave our the honey/molasses altogether and this would be Whole30-friendly and still taste great. Different, but still delicious.
- Jarred red peppers usually have citric acid added, so if you are trying to avoid that you will want to roast your own peppers.