August 22, 2010

It seems I’m making nice with all kinds of former food enemies—first radishes, then rum, and now red bell peppers.

The alliteration is accidental, I promise, or maybe I’m just getting back to my English-teacher self, what with school starting back up this week.  !!!

Green bell peppers can be found in our backyard garden and then, subsequently, on our backyard grill, and I like them just fine that way, or chopped up as part of the Cajun trinity, or stuffed with Indian-spiced meat, the way my mom makes.  But red bell peppers always just seemed lame to me—especially given how expensive they can be—slimy when roasted, boring when raw—not a fan.

In the last few years, though, given Jill’s travels and the diverse Houston restaurant landscape, my exposure to Middle Eastern cuisine grew and I fell in love with muhammara dip.  Not only is it fun to say (much like halloumi!), it’s also quite tasty.  And so I decided to give a homemade version a whirl.

My fellow teacher & dear friend Courtney sampled my version of the dip a few weekends ago when we photographed it, and requested that I post the recipe ASAP—because we’re both trying to be good about what we eat these days and this is just the type of thing that works perfectly for weekday lunches.  Make it over the weekend and stash it in the work fridge.  Pack some type of bread product, throw in some fruit & vegetables, and viola!  Instant healthy lunch.

(I made some flatbreads to go along with this dip, which I promise to post later in the week—provided the new crop of 8th graders don’t do me in.)


We found that the dip tastes even better a day or two after you make it.  So plan accordingly!


¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup walnuts, toasted
1 yellow onion, diced
3 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, & diced
¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
2 T pomegranate molasses or homemade grenadine
1 T harissa
2 tsp. salt
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
juice of 1 lemon

While the nuts cool, process the onion, peppers, pomegranate molasses, and harissa in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Strain the mix over the sink, pressing down to release excess moisture.  Dump the pepper/onion paste into a mixing bowl.

No need to clean out the blender/mixing bowl—just dump the nuts right in and pulse until coarsely ground.  I like the texture of the nuts at this point, but if you want a smoother dip, keep on going.  Add the nuts to the pepper/onion paste and stir in the bread cumbs, salt, lemon juice, & cayenne, if using.  Taste for salt and other flavorings and adjust as needed.

Serve, garnished with a little extra cayenne, with crackers, pita, crudités, naan, etc.


  1. YUM! I can’t wait to try this, Nishta – it looks and sounds fabulous!

    Comment by Martha — August 22, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  2. When dd was young, I used to make a version that used roasted red peppers. It froze well, as does pesto, making busy toddler time meals so much easier. I’ll have to definitely try yours, it sounds refreshing.

    Comment by Analog Girl — August 27, 2010 @ 3:14 am

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