Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Muhammara: Spread of the Future?

I've been in a bit of a rut lately. I often find myself in this position towards the end of winter, waiting for the rejuvenating energy of spring to strike. When I'm in a rut, the best way to get out of it is to change the little things in my day. Run a running route backwards, or read a new book. Or try a new recipe. I've done all of those things this past week or so, and I'd say I feel a little more excitement for life. Definitely less like I'm in a rut. I'm sure the warm temperatures we've been having aren't hurting my mood either.  But you're here for that new recipe I tried. It was a good one - really good.
Muhammara has been on my list of "Things I Must Make Soon" for a few months now. (Funny how that works.) And now that I've made it, I'm only sorry I waited so long to do so!

Muhammara is a middle eastern spread.  It is made up mostly of walnuts and roasted peppers - it is sweet, with a spice-laced background that I find irresistible. I really don't know how authentic this version is, to be honest, because I had never tasted it before I made it. But I do know that this version is truly, truly delicious. So, no promises about authenticity, but I do promise that it tastes fantastic.

This version, as I have written it, is not spicy. If you want something more authentic, or if you enjoy spicy foods, I highly recommend including 1 tsp red pepper flakes or a few pinches of cayenne to make it as hot as you like. 

I do not call for pomegranate molasses in this recipe, which seems to be a traditional ingredient, because I could not find it at my grocery store. I imagine I could find it at one of the middle eastern markets in town, but I wanted to make the recipe a bit more accessible. I don't like to keep ingredients on hand that I only use in a single recipe.  The maple syrup tastes great here, a natural pairing with chilies and walnuts. 

I've been eating this on top of slices of pan fried tofu and as a dip for carrot sticks. It would be great slathered on some bread as part of a sandwich too. 
I could keep rattling on about how great it tastes, because I wish it were a more photogenic food, but here we are anyways. Muhammara doesn't seem to have gained the popularity of some of it's cousins (like hummus), but it has earned a place in my kitchen. The spread of the future? Maybe. It's definitely something I'll include in my own future.

If you would like, you can add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to make this spread spicy. You can use jarred roasted peppers, or roast your peppers fresh.  Adapted from Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson.
Yield: about 2 cups

1 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 roasted red bell peppers
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste (I used 3/4-1 tsp total)
1/2 cup water
Lemon slices, to serve

1. To toast the walnuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat, and stir regularly, until the nuts begin to get golden brown spots on them and smell really good. (Or you can use whatever toasting method you like - this is my favorite method.)
2. Combine all ingredients except lemon slices in a measuring cup  or bowl and blend with an immersion blender. (Or you can try making this in a standard blender or food processor.)
3. Taste, and adjust salt and spices to your liking. Refrigerate in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it. Squeeze lemon slices over the muhammara when you eat it!

Tomorrow I will post how to make the tofu you see pictured here - a simple pan-fried technique that creates the perfect protein platform for the sauce of your choice! 

Like what you read? Subscribe to the feed in your favorite feed reader, or follow me on Twitter to keep up with new posts!

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...