You need easy food. I need easy food. We both want easy food that is also darn delicious and available for immediate eating, whether as a nibble or as part of a meal.
We both need muhammara.
I consider muhammara–along with hummus and other easy, healthy spreads–a food staple throughout the summer. Strike that–I make and eat it year-round, but it’s particularly wonderful during Texas summers when the heat is suffocating and the thought of turning on the oven is unthinkable.
Muhammara is a Middle Eastern spread (or dip) comprising a short list of familiar ingredients: roasted red bell peppers, walnuts, olive oil, and spices. The proportions vary from recipe to recipe, so, like hummus, it is highly tweakable according to your tastes.
I’ve made two significant modifications to my interpretation. First, bread or breadcrumbs are typically used as a thickener; I’ve left them out, upping the quantity of walnuts instead, to make this friendly to a wide variety of dietary needs (e.g., gluten-free, paleo, and vegan, as some breads and breadcrumbs are not vegan). Second, I use a combination of honey and lemon juice to mimic the sweet-tart flavor of pomegranate molasses (likewise a traditional ingredient in muhammara).
Muhammara is so easy to prepare–blend in food processor and you are done– and keeps well (at least a week) in the refrigerator, ideal for impromptu snacks or lunches of it and crudites/pita, a spread for sandwiches (try it with avocado and arugula, or some mashed chickpeas!), or even stirred into some whole grains (e.g., quinoa, kamut, bulgur) along with a handful of chopped fresh cilantro or mint. Easy-peasy.
Are you sold?
If you plan to make it for a party, prepare for people to lick the bowl. It is just that good.
Most of the time I use jarred roasted red bell peppers, but in the summer I’ll sometimes roast or grill my own. If you wish to use fresh peppers for the dish (from your garden, farmer’s market, or supermarket), use three large peppers; grill or roast until charred, place in a plastic bag to steam, then peel and seed.
This is the kind of snack that will energize, rather than slow you down, too–healthy fats from the walnuts and olive oil, antioxidants thanks to the crimson peppers, and a good dose of fiber, too (even more so if you gnosh it with vegetables). Don’t be surprised if you feel the need for an extra mile when you head out for an evening run!
Happy eating, everyone! 🙂
1 12-ounce jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1-1/3 cups chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey (or agave to make it vegan)
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (more or less to taste)
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepperServing suggestions: Pita, pita chips, fresh vegetables; or use as a spread on sandwiches and burgers or with fish or chicken.Blend all ingredients in a food processor until coarse puree forms. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to bowl. Makes about 2 cups dip/spread. Keep covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.