Serve this nourishing dip with toasted pita or fresh vegetables, as a flavorful spread on sandwiches, or as a colorful complement atop grilled meat, chicken or fish. This unique dish is called muhammara or acuka depending on its ethnic origin in the Middle East. A healthy eating note: the red bell peppers are rich in beta carotene, and the walnuts are a source of heart-healthy omega-3s.
3 roasted red bell peppers*
½ cup unsalted walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped fine**
¼ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses***
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
Salt to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
Before you begin: Wash your hands.
- Combine the red peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, red chili pepper flakes and cumin in a blender or food processor. Process the mixture until smooth, stopping to scrape down the side as needed.
- With the machine running, slowly pour in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Purée until smooth. Season with salt.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, parsley and pomegranate seeds, if desired.
*There are two options when it comes to roasted peppers:
- Roast them yourself: Preheat oven to 500°F. Cut peppers in quarters; remove seeds and membranes. Place peppers on a baking sheet skin side up. Roast in oven until skin blisters and blackens, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; transfer to a bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow peppers to cool. When cooled, remove skins.
- Another option: For a quicker but slightly different result, substitute 1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained.
**Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
***Substitute pomegranate juice, which has been reduced to a syrup. Bring 2/3 cup pomegranate juice to a boil in a small saucepan; reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until juice is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool before using.
Serving size: ¼ cup each
Calories: 140; Calories from fat: 110; Total fat: 12g; Saturated fat: 1.5g; Trans fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 10mg; Total carbohydrate: 9g; Dietary fiber: 2g; Sugars: 5g; Protein: 2g