What should you bring to that cook out on Sunday? Need an appetizer you can make the day before hand? Making this delicious and unique roasted red pepper spread takes less time than driving to the market and buying a tub of hummus.
Last summer I made a triple batch of this for a party and before I could say Jack Spratt the bowl I had brought was empty and women kept sidling up to me and asking what was in my Muhammara, oh yes, and how to pronounce it.
All Levantine countries have their own red pepper dip but to me the Syrian version is particularly addictive with the addition of sour pomegranate molasses and toasted walnuts. I would serve this middle eastern style with other mezzedes like my labneh with fresh pita bread.
If you haven’t tried pomegranate molasses the time has come. That odd sweet tang is a wonderful bit of kitchen magic to have in your arsenal.
Now I will share with you a family secret. Please don’t spread it around. When we fly into Ben Gurion airport once a year and climb into our rental car all disheveled and coffee stained from the trip: where do you think we drive to??? Straight into the waiting arms of our family? If you guessed that you’d be wrong. We drive straight to the lovely village of Abu Ghosh to a little restaurant off the beaten path. Is it the best place to eat in Abu Ghosh? Absolutely not. But when we arrive the owner greets us with a “We missed you. Have you come from the airport just now?
We sit at our table to the right and without consulting a menu or ordering, the table fills with delightful salads, hummus, tiny freshly fried felafel, bitter green olives, Turkish Salad, pickled beets, Mutabbal (eggplant salad) and more until about 15 different dishes have been strewn across the table top and there is no more room. The waiter rests stacks of soft pillowy pita on top of plates that already adorn the table.
At the end of the meal when empty plates far outnumber the full and we are trying valiantly to take just one more bite of hummus; the owner brings tiny cups of bitter arabic coffee and sends to the nearby bakery for baklava. Only then, having fed us, does he come and sit with us; filling us in on the good and the bad that has befallen his family that year.
When the second cup of coffee is done and we are literally licking the muddy dregs, we begin that centuries old dance in the middle east, bargaining over the bill.
No, it is not what you think. He wants to treat us to our first meal in the land. Usually we let him and then leave a tip that covers both the bill and more.
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name
-Cheers Theme Song,
Let's mix it up a little. Your friends are all expecting you to bring hummus and baby carrots. Bring this seasonal red pepper spread and amaze them. On days I don't want to cook I have been known to cook up a batch of pasta and while the pasta is cooking throw together a bath of Muhammara. Toss the two together and voila dinner.
- 1 1/2 cup roasted red peppers
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil drained
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses link in shop
- 1/2 cup walnuts lightly toasted
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 cup fresh mint
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs I use panko
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- lemon juice to taste
Toast your walnuts for a couple of minutes in a dry pan over medium heat.
Place all the ingredients (including the walnuts) in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust for your personal taste by adding more spice (paprika) or thin it with olive oil. I personally like to throw in a splash of the liquid that comes with the red peppers.
Garnish any darn way you want. I garnish it every which way. Some of my favorite garnish are toasted pine nuts, fresh mint and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Serve with pita, toasted bread or a spoon.
Will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days. Just wake it up with little lemon juice and give it a good stir before serving.