A couples of years ago on the Fourth of July, I made tons of Middle Eastern food for our celebration - hummus, tandoori chicken, pita bread, baba ghanoush and muhammara. July 4th always consists of some kind of grilling, some kind of boozy beverage and watching the fireworks in downtown Knox Vegas from our upper porch, usually with a group of friends. Whenever I know that my best friend, Dani is going to be eating with us, I make a conscious effort to tone down the hotness. I love the girl but when it comes to spicy foods, she's a wimp. Everything we ate that night had been toned down, except for the Muhammara. And wouldn't you know - that was her favorite thing!
She's asked me several times for the recipe but not only did I not copy the recipe down, I forgot what cookbook it came from. I did a search for the recipe online but all of the muhammara recipes I could find icluded roasted red peppers as an ingredient. I love them but when they're out of season, they're expensive. I looked and looked and could never find the right recipe so I gave it up for lost.
I need to explain how important Dani is to me. This is my fellow crazy cat lady. This is the wonderful lady that kept me sane last year in the months counting down to our wedding. She went wedding dress shopping with me. She planned a bridal shower. She planned a crazy night out at a drag queen show for my bachelorette party. She kept me from killing my mom. And seriously, how could you not love a girl that gives you a bottle of Big Black Dick rum and doesn't make you wear penises out in public to celebrate your upcoming nuptials?
Dani had a birthday last week. So...needless to say, I wanted to make muhammara for her. And I wanted to make the recipe that I made that July Fourth that she loved. So I headed down to the library, praying that they'd have the book in stock and that I'd still recognize the cover. I knew it was blue and written by a woman. That's it. I headed back into the stacks, found the section where most of the books on Middle Eastern food were shelved and started looking. About twenty minutes into my search, I hit the jackpot. It's in a wonderful book called The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. I'm really excited to have found it again.
Muhammara is wonderful with pita chips - especially if you're serving hummus. It contrasts nicely with the smooth, sedate creaminess of the hummus. It's quick to make and leftovers are great on sandwiches.
Love this girl!
Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this dish
1 1/4 cups shelled walnuts
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 slices whole wheat bread, lightly toasted (the recipe calls for one slice but my bread is smaller than usual)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (I like to use Aleppo pepper from Penzeys)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sugar (I like to use brown sugar, lightly packed)
Salt to taste
Toast the walnuts in a pan over medium heat for around five minutes. Make sure to stir them. Taste them and take them off the stove and place in a bowl to cool when they taste good to you. I usually put extra in the pan for "tasting purposes". Watch them carefully so they don't burn.
While the walnuts are toasting, cut the crusts off your bread, cut into large pieces and add to food processor. You can use a blender but just make sure not to get it blended too well. You want a rough paste.
Add 2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses to the food processor:
Keep your cat who thinks she's being sneaky away from the bread crusts. Because that's their natural food in the wild or something like that.
Blend to a rough paste:
If the mixture seems a little oily, add in another piece of bread and re-blend. Now eat! This goes especially well with copious amounts of Rhubarbaritas (recipe coming soon). Just be sure to drink lots of water and take some advil before going to bed!