I am a huge fan of good sauces when it comes to preparing quick and easy dinners. I have a collection of saucesthat I turn to when I want to add some zip to simply baked/grilled chicken or fish. This week, I finally got around to making a sauce I have been eyeing for a while – Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip (Muhammara), a Middle Eastern sauce or dip made with peppers and nuts. Muhammara originates from Aleppo, Syria, and is traditionally eaten as a dip with bread, as a spread for toast, and as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats and fish.
I’ve made my friend France’s Spanish romesco sauce, which is similar to muhammara but uses almonds, paprika and vinegar versus walnuts, pine nuts and pomegranate molasses. I’ve also made a few Georgian dips (Spinach Walnut and Eggplant Walnut) using walnuts, vinegar and other vegetables. A bottle of pomegranate molasses has been sitting in my pantry begging to be opened, so I was happy to break it open for this occasion.
I cheated a bit when I made this recipe. My initial intention was to roast the peppers at home, but when I spotted some roasted bell peppers in the deli section that were freshly made and inexpensive, I calculated it to be about the same cost, so I went with convenience. Of course, if you want to roast your own peppers, it is easy to do. Just check out the original recipe.
Today is “reveal day” for Group D of the Secret Recipe Club, created by Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin, and hosted by April of Angel Foods Kitchen. So far, everything I’ve tried for the Secret Recipe Club has come out really well, and I’ve had the opportunity to delve deeper into some blogs more intimately and get to know the person behind the blog. This club has grown so rapidly that Amanda has created four different groups that have a different reveal day during each month. The idea behind the Secret Recipe Club is to give bloggers the chance to try each other’s recipes without the other bloggers knowing it until everyone posts their results.
This month, I was assigned to Yasmeen of Wandering Spice. Let me introduce you to Yasmeen. Yasmeen’s fascination with food started when she was a young girl in Washington DC, standing on a chair beside her mom, “peering over the counter and interfering with her cooking of the day.” She went to graduate school in Amsterdam, fell in love with an Australian Man and now lives in Melbourne. Yasmeen’s philosophy is that “the best meals are imperfect, fun and inspired by life.” She has an interest in discovering the history behind food. Her recipe index is fascinating to me, full of Middle Eastern family heirloom dishes, along with other Eastern-inspired sweets and savories she has tasted during my travels. I have earmarked her Buckwheat Crepes, Sesame Sauce (Tarator) and Baba Ghannoush (eggplant dip) to try.
I could eat Muhammara by the spoonful by itself. In fact, I will confess that I ate a few spoonfuls before spreading it on top of some baked tilapia for my family’s dinner. Served with some Quinoa Pilaf and Steamed Broccoli with Toasted Garlic Olive Oil, dinner was ready in 30 minutes. I also packed a small container of this Muhammara to go along with the Creamy Roasted Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup I made for my friend with cancer. I thought it would make an otherwise plain looking soup pop with color and stimulate the tastebuds a bit. This version is gluten-free as I simply substituted bread ends from gluten-free bread that I ground up in the food processor.
Muhammara contains lots of anticancer ingredients:
- Red bell peppers – contains lycopene along with vitamin C and fiber which may offer protection against colon, cervical, bladder, prostate and pancreatic cancers, and a whole host of antioxidants that help absorb cancer-causing free radicals
- Chili peppers - contains capsaicin which may help kill prostate cancer cells and prevent stomach cancer
- Garlic – reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the gastrointestinal tract
- Walnuts - may help reduce prostate cancer risk
- Lemon juice - contains lots of vitamin C which helps the immune system stay strong
- Olive oil - contains vitamin E and monounsaturated fats which lowers colon cancer rates
Please stop by Wandering Spice and check out Yasmeen’s recipes…and while you’re there, congratulate her…she’s getting married in a few months. Congratulations Yasmeen!
- 4 roasted red bell peppers
- 1-2 red chili peppers, chopped, seeds removed
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh gluten-free bread crumbs (I used ends from a loaf of bread)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place roasted red peppers, chili peppers, walnuts, pine nuts, garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, bread crumbs and olive oil in a food processor. Process until mostly smooth, retaining some texture (like pesto).