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Recipe Friday: Red Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread (Muhammara)

Posted on: October 8, 2010

Richly red-colored spread, and bright, tangy flavors! This is fantastic stuff to spread on top of baguette slices (toasted or not), or toasted pita. The peppers are roasted first to really bring out their sweetness. You can choose to add hot chiles—as many as you want—if you want a spicier spread. I definitely suggest letting this spread sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving, to let the flavors blend.

Red Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread

from Everybody’s San Francisco Cookbook

6 red bell peppers
2 Fresno chiles (optional; can substitute habanero if you like a lot of heat)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black cumin seeds (optional)
1 c walnuts
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Place bell peppers on a baking sheet and roast in the oven (covering the baking sheet with foil makes cleaning up easier). Turn the peppers as necessary to char evenly on all sides. Depending on your oven, roasting may take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. The chiles will roast more quickly than the peppers, so if you’re using them, toss them in toward the end.

3. Once the peppers and chiles are blackened, place them in a paper or plastic bag and seal tightly. The steam created by the peppers will cause the skins to loosen. Leave sealed for 20 minutes. Open the bag and peel away the skins from the meat of the bell peppers and chiles. Discard the stems, inner membranes, and all the seeds. Place the flesh of the peppers and chiles in a small bowl and set aside.

4. In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin seeds and the black cumin seeds, if using, over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

5. In a food processor, coarsely chop the walnuts and then add the roasted cumin. Pulse a few times and wipe down the bowl sides with a spatula. Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and honey. Pulse a few more times and then wipe down the sides again. Add the bell peppers and chiles, if used, and run the processor until the peppers have been absorbed into the spread. Add the olive oil with the processor still running, until fully incorporated. Transfer to a serving bowl.

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