Roasted Red Pepper Dip (Muhammara)

This Turkish/ Syrian dip and sauce, Muhammera, combines toasted walnuts and roasted red peppers with pomegranate molasses, a secret ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes. It can be used as a delicious condiment for vegetables, pita bread, grilled chicken, and as a spread for sandwiches. Look for Middle Eastern grocery stores in your city to buy the pomegranate molasses. It's similar to aged balsamic vinegar and is a useful condiment (try it drizzled over grilled pork chops). Alternatively, pomegranate concentrate can often be found at upscale grocery stores and works as a substitute. Pomegranate juice can also be cooked down. Make a gluten free version of this recipe by replacing the bread crumbs with gluten free cracker crumbs.
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1/2 cup walnuts, toasted lightly 1/2 cup fine fresh whole wheat bread crumbs or no-gluten crackers 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained or 2 red bell peppers, roasted 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (*available at Middle Eastern markets) or pomegranate concentrate or 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, reduced 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or cayenne (or to taste) 2 - 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (per desired consistency)


1) If using pomegranate juice rather than molasses or concentrate, put 1/2 cup pomegranate juice into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook down to 1 tablespoon over medium heat, uncovered, for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool and thicken.
2) Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over a medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3) Put the walnuts and bread crumbs (or crackers) into a food processor and process until finely ground. Add red peppers, garlic and salt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses (or reduced pomegranate juice), cumin, and hot pepper flakes and process until smooth. While the processor is on, add olive oil in a thin stream until desired consistency. Serve with vegetables, pita bread and/ or grilled chicken.