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Muhammara ~ Syrian Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip

Posted Aug 12 2012 11:44am

I am on a roll with peppers. What can I say... who can resist fire roasted peppers in the summer when the grill is going. Broiling peppers releases the natural sugars, which makes this hot tamale a winner for many recipes.

A little while back, I took a culinary class led by Jennifer Abadi at The Natural Gourmet Institute. We made a host of dishes from the famed Silk Road. One of them was this Muhammara dip. It is addictive!! So much so that I had to make it again.

Muhammara also pronounced mhammara, which means red color — originates from Aleppo, Syria, and is quite popular in the Middle East. It is a spicy red pepper dip, easy to make and can be served warm or cold. I suggest serving it with crusty bread or fresh veggies. 

What makes this dip unique is the unusual combination of spices and ingredients that are used.
For instance, pomegranate molasses provides a unique sweet and sour taste, which makes it a signature dish. Long before the modern day beverage POM existed there was pomegranate syrup which originated in Persia. The savory blend of tangy pomegranates and roasted red peppers mix with ground walnuts and our unique blend of spices to create this nutty and irresistibly exotic spread.



Makes: about 3 cups (6 to 8 servings)

Ingredients

For Dip
1 pound red bell peppers (3 medium) or 1 (24 oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers (1 cup, drained)
3 cups walnut halves
5 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon water, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1  teaspoon ground cumin
1  teaspoon sea salt (if using fresh peppers), or to taste (if using roasted peppers from a jar)

For Serving
extra virgin olive or walnut oil
crushed, toasted walnuts
thick and crusty bread or vegetable crudite

Directions

1. If using peppers from the jar, skip down to step #2. If using fresh peppers, rinse
thoroughly under cold water. Preheat the broiler (on “Hi” if using an electric oven), and
place the peppers, on a baking sheet or small baking pan and set under the broiler. After
about 12 to 15 minutes (skins should start to blacken and wilt), turn the peppers over and
broil the other side an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Keep turning and rotating the peppers
until all sides blister. (Note: It is good if they turn black as you will peel these thin skins
off, and the char will give a smoky flavor and you can grill this on the fire if your prefer).
Remove from the broiler and let cool until lukewarm. Peel the thin skin from each pepper
and discard.

2. If using peppers from the jar, drain liquid and place into a small bowl. Cover with cold
water and soak the peppers, 1 to 2 hours, changing the water frequently to flush out the
excess salt and vinegar. Drain well.

3. Place walnuts in a large skillet and begin to brown over high heat for about 2 minutes.
Lower to medium heat and shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning, continue to dryroast the walnuts until dark brown on all sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat
and pour onto a large plate or baking pan to cool completely to room temperature. Set
aside . cup for the garnish when serving.

4. Put roasted and peeled peppers, the3 cups of toasted walnuts, garlic cloves, and water into a food processor and pulse to combine.

5. Add the tomato paste, olive oil, walnut oil, pomegranate syrup, cumin, and fenugreek (if
desired) and process until very smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Taste and add the salt (if using freshly roasted peppers) or to taste (if necessary when
using the jarred peppers).

7. Serve at room temperature drizzled with olive or walnut oil, pomegranate syrup and toasted
walnuts.

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