When I scored a 99-cent bag of wilted sweet red bell peppers, I knew exactly what I was going to make. Muhammara. A middle eastern dip.
This walnut and pepper dip requires roasted peppers, so a few dings and bruises made no difference to me. Red peppers are riper, sweeter and generally more expensive than the younger green peppers. They also spoil faster because they are further along in the ripening process. Together, the ingredients in this recipe make a delicious dip plus they are a good health investment. Sweet red peppers star in this dip. But that’s not all. They contribute vitamins C and A and that bright red color means more anti-inflammatory help from the plant chemicals in preventing cancer. Peppers are on the lower end of the potassium scale, making them a better choice for people with kidney disease. (Though this recipe has walnuts, a high potassium food, so this dip may not be ideal for those watching potassium levels). Walnuts thicken the dip and provide protein, fiber, potassium, and fat. This is the better-for-you fat plant-based version of omega 3’s that contribute to heart health and reduction of chronic inflammation. Spices in this recipe contribute great flavor plus anti-inflammatory benefits. I used smoked paprika but you can substitute regular paprika, or none at all.
If you want a gluten-free option, replace the bread crumbs with rice crackers or gluten-free bread.
Lemon juice and pomegranate molasses provide tangy flavor. I use it in vinaigrettes, glaze chicken with it and drizzle it over ice cream, so it doesn’t languish in the fridge forever — though you might find you’re pouring more just to make this dip. BTo roast peppers, set the peppers directly on the grill. Roast until skin is puffed, blistered and blackened, turn peppers during roasting so all sides are on one side. Remove from heat, immediately place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes. This creates steam, which allows the peppers to be peeled easily. Remove peppers from bowl, peel off charred skin, remove stem and seeds. Alternatively, the peppers can be broiled in the oven. Place the peppers on a baking sheet, broil, turning regularly until blackened. To save time, roast the peppers while you are grilling other foods. After roasting, they may be store in the fridge for a couple days, or can even be frozen for a few months, before you make the dip. Flavors develop as it ages, so if you can make it a day or two ahead, it’s even better. Cucumbers, zucchini, carrots and jicama make good dippers.
Red Pepper Walnut Dip is more than a dip:
Spread on a sandwich rather than mayonnaise
Top a burger
Dollop a deviled egg
Smear on toast
Toss with cooked pasta