Muhammara Roasted Red Pepper-Walnut Spread
"The Arabic word muhammara translates literally to "something that is red," so the trick to this dish is to choose peppers with the deepest ripe-red hue possible to create the perfect sweet pepper spread. The secret ingredient is a backdrop of sweet and tart pomegranate molasses to brighten all the other flavors. Snack on this with fresh flatbread or toss it into your pasta. There is no wrong way to eat muhammara."
4 large red bell peppers
1 ⅓ cup walnuts, plus 2 tbsp chopped for garnish
½ cup panko bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp Khalta Hara
¾ tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 tbsp pomegranate seeds (optional) for garnish
2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional) for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
Place fresh bell peppers on the prepared tray. Roast the peppers until the skins are charred, about 30 minutes, turning them over once or twice. Transfer to a resealable bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap and set aside. Once cool, tear the peppers open and remove the stems, seeds and skin.
Combine with walnuts and breadcrumbs in a food processor and process to a cornmeal-like texture. Add the roasted peppers, garlic, molasses, lemon juice Khalta Hara, salt and cumin. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
With the processor still running, slowly add the oil and blend until the oil is completely incorporated. Adjust the salt to taste.
When ready to serve, scoop the pepper mixture, chilled or at room temperature, onto a serving plate. With the back of a spoon, create little divots for the oil to fall into. Drizzle with the oil and garnish with the chopped walnuts, pomegranate seeds and parsley.
The spread can be stored, ungarnished, in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Reprinted with permission from Arabiyya: Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil, copyright © 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. ”Photographs copyright © 2022 by Alanna Hale Illustrations copyright © 2022 by Cece Carpio