Do I have a recipe to share with YOU that is shamefully overdue! If you love peppers and walnuts, I promise that this will become your default dip to serve to house guests or any gathering where you bring a dish. It elicits an instant “ohmiGAWD what is this” type of reaction. Whenever I serve this, it is what everyone is raving about. Yes, it’s THAT good. And it doesn’t last long at a dinner party OR in the refrigerator.
So here’s the backstory on how this scrumptious, omega-3-rich dip entered into my life. During an overdue trip to NYC this past March, we tried something new on the menu that stole my heart and taste buds. It was our first night in the Big Apple, first restaurant, first appetizer. And it was literally love at first bite.
I couldn’t understand what the waiter at Leyla called it. It sounded like he was mumbling and both Tim and I looked at each other like, “what did he say?!?” When we looked at the menu, right under hummus, it said Muhammara: pomegranate molasses, walnut, olive oil.
It was love at first bite. I was instantly obsessed and pretty much posted multiple Instagram stories of it all weekend because I could have made a meal out of just that alone. Below is the picture I took of it but it’s dark in the restaurant but who cares. THIS is my everything dip.
Remember when quinoa, the high-protein exotic grain, first came on the culinary scene. Everyone struggled with how to pronounce it, but my sounded like “Key-KNOW-a”. Who could tell by looking at the word quinoa – that you would say “keen-wah”!
Anyway, my Nutrition Atlanta friends, this dip is gonna make you want to learn how to make it AND pronounce it. I googled “how to pronounce muhammara” and it sounds like “me-U-hu-mara”. You have my permission to lovingly refer to it as the best red pepper & walnut dip that your favorite Atlanta dietitian turned you onto. You are so very welcome.
PS: this is amazing on sandwiches and wraps too. I love to eat with sliced cucumber, celery and daikon radish as well as flax crackers like Flackers or Mary’s Gone Super Seed crackers (make your own here). I recently found Flackers at Homegoods for $2.99 a bag and stocked up. Mary’s Gone were on sale and so I grabbed several boxes as well.
Are you salivating like Pavlov’s dog yet?
And now, here’s the super-star recipe of this post you’ve been waiting for:
MUHAMMARA (RED PEPPER AND WALNUT DIP)
1 large fresh red bell pepper, roasted (see note), or 1 chopped frozen red bell pepper, thawed
½ cup chopped scallions (3 to 4 scallions)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher or pink salt, more to taste
3 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (preferably Marash or Aleppo), more to taste
5 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
4 to 6 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
Combine pepper, scallions, lemon juice, cumin, salt, 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons olive oil and all but 2 of the walnuts in a food processor and purée until mostly smooth.
Add 4 tablespoons bread crumbs and pulse to combine. If mixture is still too loose to hold its shape, add remaining bread crumbs and pulse again. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.
Scrape spread into a bowl and make a well in the center with the back of a spoon. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes in the well. Crush the reserved walnuts between your fingers and sprinkle over the top. I always like to add any micro green as a garnish on top as well. Next level.
Ok, so in full disclosure I am lousy at following recipes to a “T”. I like to free-style a bit in the kitch based on the ingredients that I have available. However, that being said the first several times I made this, I did indeed do as I was instructed. Almost.
I intended on roasting my own red peppers but found a jarred version at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 and decided to keep things easy. I rinsed them well to get rid of the preservatives. I forgot the scallions and neglected to roast the walnuts. I intentionally consume nuts raw. I used a gluten-free canned bread crumb product I found in my pantry that needed to be used but would make another batch making my own breadcrumbs from leftover Star Provisions bread.
I couldn’t find legit pomegranate molasses and then the one I finally did find had high fructose corn syrup in it. Sorry, my belly is not a fan. I don’t do well with corn or corn-products and after years of abusing my GI system, I honor it now.
So instead I made a pomegranate molasses syrup hybrid out of pure organic pomegranate juice that really didn’t come out fabulous, but I used it anyway to give it that pomegranate essence. BTW I found a clean product on Amazon here but it’s not gluten-free because it has caramel (other selections are here). This product is from Turkey and Istanbul always reminds me of pomegranates.
I used to lead plant-based retreats in Turkey at the world-class Richmond Nua Wellness Spa in Spanca in April and November for 3 years. Every November, the pomegranates were in season and we would have enormous containers of fresh pomegranate seeds to adorn salads, yogurt, and plant-centered desserts. If you’ve ever peeled and de-seeded fresh pomegranates then you understand what a gift this is. Or was.
Pomegranates are one of my favorite heart-friendly fruits. I look forward to November just for that seasonal fruit to make an appearance in grocery stores. I’m actually counting down until the end of the year for gorgeous pom’s to come into my life!
Wow, what a digression… get me talking about food and I can go on for days. Ok, so I made a slight change with the pom molasses as well as the spices for the sake of efficiency.
Actually what happened is this: I spotted a bottle of Limited Edition Calabrian Chile Pepper infused extra virgin Olive oil (EVOO) and used this for the red pepper flakes + olive oil ingredients. Efficiency. Boom. This oil also happens to be amazing in soups just like you’d use red chili oil. It’s super easy to make: add oil of choice to a glass container and add red pepper flakes. This one also has capsicum extract (cayenne pepper) for that extra POW flavor. Here’s a similar one on Amazon that might be a good option.
Ok, there you have it. I shared this recipe during the April 30-Day Mindful Eating Challenge (ps you can join the September 16th challenge here) and clients/participants who made it were freaking out. No, I’m not embellishing one bit. I should find her message and post it here. I think I will. Stay tuned.
Do me a favor, if you make this please leave me a comment, ok? I’m really curious about how it turns out for you and if you love it as much as I do. If you’re a fan of roasted red peppers and walnuts, you will HNAT* be disappointed!
*PS: My last name is Hnat and it’s pronounced NOT so I used it like that word to have fun with my Czech last name! Feel free to do the same 🙂
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