One of us had his first taste of muhammara, a nutty pink paste of walnuts and charred bell peppers, on a date with a gorgeous lady friend. The other one of us tried muhammara for the first time just two hours later while eating the remnants from that date out of a grease-stained Styrofoam container. We don't know whose experience was better.
Like most dips, muhammara gets better when it sits. And this week, we whipped up enough that it sat and sat and sat. Why so much? Smoked muhammara on pita crisps with pomegranate seeds is one of the seasonal appetizers we're planning for an October wedding catering gig, so we're dealing with school cafeteria-sized portions in hopes of getting our multiplication right for shopping. Our advice: Even if you're making this for your own dashing date, make enough to pack for lunches with a couple of falafel balls or some tahini-rice.
Makes about 3 cups
3 red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups walnuts
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Whole wheat pita bread
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
1) Crank the flames on your stovetop and place each red bell pepper on direct heat to char the skin. As the pepper skin gets black, turn with tongs until evenly roasted. Now place peppers in a brown bag and close. As it cools, the skin will separate and should be easy to scrub off by rubbing it between your fingers.2) Dump the walnuts in a frying pan on high heat and toast until brown, not black, for about 3 minutes. Remove and let cool.3) Once the pepper skins are removed, chop off the pepper tops, scoop out the seeds and white membranes and discard. Feed the pepper meats to a blender or Cuisinart with the walnuts. Add pomegranate molasses, olive oil, paprika and Aleppo spices, and pulse until thoroughly pink and a consistent purée. Season with salt to taste.4) Cut pita into chip-sized pieces and bake or toast until crisp. Top pita with a dollop of muhammara and garnish with two pomegranate seeds each.