wc-Chargrilled-Sweet-Pepper-and-Walnut-Dip

 

I posted this a couple of years ago. My deli is still there. Hummus display is even bigger, more flavors. Gee, chipotle hummus. I prefere this dip!

My corner deli in Manhattan is run by Koreans, what else? The refrigerator case is overflowing with hummus, in all its glorious variations, what else?

Our food continues to become international and where does it begin? With snacks. First the salsa and chips. Then the tacos and burritos. A decade ago you might have to search the deli case for hummus. Now you have to search for the Kraft onion dip.

Suzen and I made this particular Middle Eastern delight, actually called muhamara, last weekend. We’ve tested it on over forty people so far. Forty yes votes and zero no votes. Everyone seems to love this dish. More importantly, this is not a dip you just eat. People take a bite, pause, and curiously seek to figure out what it could be.  For the flavor is utterly intriguing. Warm, and then hot. Woven with layers that keep emerging, mingling, blending.

There are roasted peppers here, walnuts, bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, mint and more. We often think of dips as “simple” things. You know, sour cream and onion soup mix.

Not here. This dish will take some time to prepare, beginning with roasting the peppers. But the payoff is exceptional. I did take pictures of our creation but the picture above comes from the source, Pomegranates & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy. This is a lovely new book that I have written about before — look for the Citrus Salad from a couple of weeks ago. Middle Eastern food is healthy, layered with flavor, and destined to be as mainstream as those tacos.

I called this dish a dip, and the book even does that, but the recipe headnotes remark that this muhamara can be used in stews, or combined with pasta and potatoes. It’s a universal dish, either a dip or a fundamental ingredient in some larger context.

In Arabic, muhamara means reddened or crimsoned. You can see why.


Chargrilled Sweet Pepper & Walnut Dip

Yield: ~ 4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound 2 ounces roasted sweet peppers
  • ¾ cup walnut halves, roughly chopped
  • ⅔ cup fine bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes [optional]
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
  • Finely chopped mint leaves for garnish
  • Warm Arabic bread for serving [optional]

Preparation:

Slice the tops off the roasted peppers, discarding any seeds. Chop the flesh finely and put it in a mixing bowl.

Add the walnuts, bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, Aleppo pepper flakes, if using, and oil and season to taste with salt. Mix well, then set aside about 1 hour to let the flavors develop.

Put the ingredients in a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with mint. Serve at room temperature with warm Arabic Bread.

Source: Pomegranate & Pine Nuts by Bethany Kehdy

Photo Information: Pomegranates & Pine Nuts