I was at the Uva bar at Disneyland when I first had Muhammara. They served it with pita, and it was this amazing taste of red peppers and… I couldn’t place it but I had to find it again! No restaurant that I’ve found since serves it, aside from the Greek farmers market near my house that had it in their deli for about a year. Trader Joe’s came out with a version that tasted very close to homemade, and I was impressed though recently it has disappeared from their shelves. If you find it around southern California, let me know!
It’s got roasted red peppers, walnuts, some pomegranate molasses and a bit of heat. You can use canned red peppers to save on time and mess, but to me it just wouldn’t be the same.
I decided to make it into a layered dip, a la 7-layer Mexican bead dip! I stopped by the deli and picked up some Greek olives and made up a bit of cucumber tomato salad. I layered:
Muhammara (recipe below)
Cucumber tomato salad
Sliced red onions
Serve with pita chips and enjoy!
Muhammara (Red Pepper & Walnut Dip)
- 7 whole red peppers, roasted (stems and seeds cut away)
- 1 1/2 c walnuts, toasted
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 t paprika
- 1 t cumin, ground
- 1 t red pepper flakes (or more if you like more heat!) (chopped hot pepper is good too, about 2 tsp)
- 1/4 c fresh lime juice (or lemon)
- 3 1/2 T pomegranate molasses*
- 2 T olive oil (or more, if needed to thin)
- 1/2 c breadcrumbs, regular or panko
- salt & black pepper to taste
ROASTING THE RED PEPPERS
Place each pepper over the open-flame of a gas burner or grill, cooking until skin blackens and blisters. Rotate peppers and blacken all the way around, about 15 minutes.
-- OR --
Roast peppers in oven by placing them on a baking sheet and placing under the broiler, turn frequently, until the peppers are blackened and blistered all over. Put blackened peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to steam.
When cool, peel using a paring knife (or don’t peel) discard peels, stem, and seeds.
TOASTING THE WALNUTS
Spread walnuts on parchment-lined baking sheet. Put in oven until light golden brown and aromatic, 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
MAKING THE DIP
Put roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, lime or lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and small portion of olive oil into food processor with a teaspoon of salt, run until the dip is smooth. Add bread crumbs. Add more oil as needed. Add additional roasted peppers and walnuts and bread crumbs if desired and continue flavoring. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Cool and serve.
* TO MAKE POMEGRANATE SYRUP OR MOLASSES
4 cups pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
FOR SYRUP: Place pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quoart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once dissolved, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until mixture is reduced to 1 ½ cups, approximately 50 minutes and is the consistency of syrup. Remove from heat and cool in saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
FOR MOLASSES: Follow syrup recipe, but cook until mixture is reduced to 1 cup, approximately 70 minutes, and is the consistency of thick syrup. Follow syrup recipe for cooling and storage.