Update since my last post: still no computer, kids are still cute, no house has been purchased, and I’m caught up with Breaking Bad (and reading all the theories on the internet as though I’m taking a class on it). And blogging has still been tough. Lack of computer and busyness aside, I’ve been pretty unmotivated, and the demise of Google Reader is not helping anyone. I had like a million recipes starred that are either lost or unsearchable (unless I want to pay $45 to search on Feedly, which, uh, no thanks). My friend Courtney, though, has just written a post that will help you import your starred items into a searchable platform, assuming you still have your Takeout file. Yay!
Anyway, since I haven’t had an easy way to sift through my favorites lately, I’ve had to rely on my memory for things I’ve saved (not the best tool for the woman who is constantly forgetting her keys and phone, and losing miserably to her 3 year old in Memory). Muhammara was one of those things. It’s a Syrian/Lebanese red bell pepper mixture. You can eat it as a spread, a dip, or mix it with some meat before cooking (more on that soon!)
It’s very reminiscent of romesco, in that it’s a red pepper-nut mixture, and is similar in texture to a thick pesto. It’s incredibly easy to make, versatile, and, of course, quite tasty. There’s not much more to say about it, other than it’s a great addition to your appetizer spread (or wrap) and a nice change from your typical dips. The version below is mild, so if you want a spicier version, increase the chili paste or add some red pepper flakes.
Adapted from Taste of Beirut
1/2 cup walnuts
3 large red bell peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion, coarsley chopped
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. red chili paste or aleppo chili powder
1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses (I used petimezi, which is a grape molasses)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the walnuts in a bowl; cover with water and allow to stand for one hour.
Place the peppers on a broiler safe pan and broil until skin is blistered and charred on all sides (alternatively, you may place them directly on a gas burner). Put in a bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the skin from the peppers, remove the core and seeds, and then coarsely chop.
Peel the garlic cloves and crush with with a little salt, with a mortar and pestle or on a cutting board with the help of your chef’s knife.
Place the drained walnuts, peppers, garlic, onion, cumin, chili paste, and molasses in the bowl of a food processor. Process until everything is combined and pieces are small. Stream in the oil, continuing to process, until mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.