I have been on quite a Middle Eastern flavors kick recently. I think it is the cooler weather – which I actually don’t mind because it means warm spices, big bowls of soup, cozy sweaters…granted it is October, come March I will most likely be a little less enthusiastic.
I made this for my monthly potluck dinner with a group of girls from high school – well actually most of us went kindergarten through 12th grade together. In a class of 40 girls. Yes ALL girls. And yes we still like each other! We rotate apartments (I am planning on hosting the next one, once I get a real table and something other than plastic folding chairs to sit on) and everyone brings something – the non-cooks usually bring cheese, wine, or dessert. Arguably the most important elements to any meal. Given that this dinner would most likely be washed down with a healthy dose of pre-halloween candy, I thought I would offer something healthy to start. It was a hit. I believe a spoon was even used at one point when our provider of crackers and crudité arrived fashionably late.
Muhammara comes from Syria and is eaten as a dip with pita or as a sauce for kebabs. I would also add that it makes a delicious addition to any sandwich – like the one I lovingly prepared at 7am for Chris, with leftover roast chicken, gruyere, and avocado. Usually when I make something new he sends me a text saying how tasty his lunch was (or occasionally offering constructive criticism when I accidentally blast his sinuses with a little too much horseradish!) so his radio silence was a little suspicious. When asked he came clean that he forgot he had such a wonderfully prepared lunch and ordered food – I am sure he would have given it a rave review but you will have to ask the guy who sits next to him what he thought of the sandwich. Did I mention the bread was homemade?
- 3 red bell peppers
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ cup tomato paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbl honey
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Toast the walnuts.
- Roast bell peppers over a burner to char - once skin is blackened place pepper in a bowl and cover, letting the peppers steam for 10 minutes.
- Combine all other ingredients in a food processor.
- Remove charred skin, seeds, and stems from bell peppers and add to the food processor.
- Puree and taste for seasoning.
- Serve at room temp with pita or fresh veggies - anything that can carry a nice big scoop to your mouth.!