21 Mar Muhammara with Pickled Bell Peppers
Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected sources. Mine found me when I was decluttering my pantry. After going through countless half-full bags of lentils, barley, and some weird grains I didn’t even know I had, I discovered a jar of roasted and pickled red peppers, which I bought a few months ago and completely forgot about. For some weird coincidence, I placed them next to a bag of toasted walnuts my mom brought me from Ukraine, and then the lightning struck. I thought that I should finally use those ingredients, and the word Muhammara instantly poped-up in my head.
For those who don’t know, Muhammara is a Syrian paste, thick and flavorful, made with just a few ingredients. As you might have already guessed, the main two are roasted red bell peppers and toasted walnuts, mixed with Aleppo chili flakes, bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses, and some basic spices and herbs. Even though Muhamarra is a fairly basic dish, it has a very intense and bright flavor with a nice zing from dried chili flakes. It goes incredibly well with roasted veggies, grilled meat, and even seafood. My Muhammara didn’t survive in the fridge even a day. We ate it with freshly baked white pita and some fresh cucumbers and radishes. Talking about pita, I think I should make a recipe for that as well, but in a separate post. I’m convinced that homemade pita is 100% better than a store-bought one, and the whole process of making it doesn’t require any special skills or extra effort. So, for now, I leave you with my quick Muhammara spread recipe, and the pita will follow in a few days.
Oh, one more thing. If you don’t have any pickled peppers in your pantry, you can broil three large red bell peppers in the oven (500 F) until they are soft and charred. Then place them in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap so that they steam. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel the skin, and voila you have your Muhammara base. If you’re using roasted peppers, you might want to add a little bit of lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
- 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 3 large pickled or roasted red bell peppers peeled.
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- 4 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt to taste
- a pinch of cilantro for garnish
- 1 teaspoon barberries for garnish optional
- In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and pulse until you pet a thick mostly smooth paste. Don’t process too much you want to retain some texture. Season with salt to taste.
- Scoop the muhammara on a large plate and drizzle with some more olive oil. Top with barberries and cilantro and serve with some fresh pita bread.