We’re having an impromptu New Year’s Eve “party” tonight. I put party in quotations because we’re not exactly a wild bunch. We’re having food, alcohol, and friends on NYE, so I feel like it qualifies as a party, but we’re doing a lot more playing of board games than dancing on tables.
I’ve wanted to make muhammara for awhile now and tonight seemed like a good night! It’s really pretty easy to make, especially if you have a decent food processor. I mostly followed the recipe of my old faithful, Yotam Ottolenghi, for this one. If it’s any type of food from the greater Middle East, I feel like he makes it and makes it well! Muhammara originates from Aleppo, Syria, so the use of Aleppo pepper in the dish just feels important and necessary to me. Unfortunately, the civil war in Syria has greatly decreased world-wide supply of Aleppo pepper.* (*Obviously, this is not the most important negative impact of the Syrian civil war.) But with that in mind, if you don’t have any/can’t find any, you can substitute a smaller quantity of crushed red pepper flakes. (Aleppo pepper isn’t quite as spicy and has a deeper depth of flavor + a slight sweetness as compared to crushed red pepper. Some suggest a mixture of sweet paprika & cayenne/crushed red pepper is a okay approximation.) This spread is popular from Syria through Turkey and the Caucasus, with some regional variations. The main ingredients always include red pepper and walnuts (the basis of the dip), Aleppo pepper, and olive oil.
Also, for your party hosting pleasure, this recipe would be very easy to scale up. This yielded ~ 2 cups.
Hope you enjoy!
Happy New Year!! 🎉🎇🥂🖤
(Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi)
- 3 red bell peppers
- Olive oil
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs [I actually used cracker crumbs – crushed matzoh from our Potato Latkes the other night]
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup walnut pieces
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bell peppers in half, removing the stems & seeds, and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast until blackened and blistering, ~30-35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grind up the walnuts in a food processor. You want them to be fairly finely ground, but still have some texture. Set to the side.
- Peel the skin off of the red peppers once they are cool enough to handle.
- Place peppers, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, bread crumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse until well-combined. Again, don’t over-process and destroy all of the texture.
- By hand, stir in the walnuts into the rest of the ingredients.
- Add salt to taste.
- When serving, top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature.