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Muhammara - Walnut, Red Pepper & Pomegranate Dip Recipe

Adapted from Paula Wolfert’s Cooking from the Eastern Mediterranean: This is a recipe I first learned from a Syrian woman named Nora, who loved to tell the most off-color jokes as we’d delicately prepare the day’s food.

I’ve adapted it to use either prepared roasted bell peppers or piquillo peppers - or do it yourself: Oil and roast the same number of red bell peppers. Roast the peppers at 450 F or broil them until they’re blistery and turning black, then place them in a paper bag and let them cool. Remove and seed, core and skin them.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed crackers or 1 slice of day-old bread, torn into chunks
1-1/3 cup walnuts (not pre-chopped)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoons piment fort
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
6-8 roasted red bell peppers, seeded, or 12-14 piquillo peppers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients except bell peppers, olive oil and salt together in a food processor. Remove mixture from bowl and set aside.

2. Pulse red peppers in food processor until smooth. Add the first mixture back to the pureed peppers in food processor and pulse several times until everything comes together. With the blade running steadily, add olive oil in a stream. Taste and adjust the seasonings as you desire.

3. The muhammara may be eaten right away, but its flavor improves after a few days in the refrigerator. Before serving, let it come to room temperature. If you like, add a dollop of olive oil in the center of the dip and sprinkle with more ground cumin. Serve with plenty of pita bread.

makes 2-1/2 cups
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