Paleo Muhammara (The Best Dip Ever)
Updated: May 5
This Syrian roasted red pepper sauce is the stuff dreams are made of.
For the printable recipe click here.
It's hard to believe, but six years ago I had never experienced Muhammara.
When we moved to our current home just under six years ago, one of our first orders of business was finding a good spot for Mediterranean food, our favorite type of takeout.
We soon found a spot with all our favorite menu offerings, plus something new: a flavorful roasted red pepper dip called muhammara. The night I first tasted this tantalizing Middle Eastern magic, I licked the plastic takeout clamshell it came in completely clean.
It was love at first dip.
Shortly thereafter, work commenced in the Monster Kitchen on a copycat recipe. There were several tries, but what I present to you today is the ultimate, most delicious, most crave-worthy sauce I have ever scarfed down.
Much like Spanish Romesco sauce, Muhammara sometimes contains breadcrumbs, which you will not find in our version. Trust me when I say you won't miss them.
Traditionally made with Aleppo peppers, which can sometimes be a challenge to source, this recipe relies on a trio of roasted red bell peppers, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika (you could use smoked if that's all you have, but I prefer sweet here). Toasted walnuts round out the base. Zesty fresh garlic and sweet caramelized onions amp up the flavor, but pomegranate molasses is what really brings it to life. Some of my earliest attempts at muhammara omitted this critical component, and it was certainly missed.
I like to make my own pomegranate molasses by simply reducing pure pomegranate juice to a thick, syrupy consistency on the stovetop. This process takes a while (about 75 minutes), but the resulting one-ingredient pomegranate molasses is perfect for this recipe and lasts for months in the fridge.
Now, it may be worth noting that I like my flavors rather intense. Monster Daddy jokes that I like to be "bashed over the head with flavor." If you prefer more delicate, subtle dips and sauces, perhaps this is not the recipe for you. But if you're ready for a complex, fully-loaded flavor explosion, please proceed with excitement.
Here's what you'll need:
3 red bell peppers
¾ cup walnuts
¼ cup caramelized onions
3 large cloves of garlic
2 T pomegranate molasses*
1 ½-2 tsp coarse salt, or to taste
1 ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp paprika
Here's what you'll do:
Roast the peppers. I do this one-pepper- at-a-time over the open flame of my gas stovetop, using long metal tongs to hold the pepper over the flame just long enough to blacken the skin, then turning and repeating till all the sides are blackened and repeating with the remaining peppers. You could place the peppers on a baking sheet under the broiler instead if desired. Either way, place the blackened peppers on a plate or baking sheet and cover with foil until cool, or at least 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts either in a dry pan over med-low heat on the stovetop, or in a single layer in a 300 degree F oven for about 10 min or just until very lightly toasted. Either way, stir or toss them occasionally to make sure they do not burn. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Once the peppers are cooled, rub the skins off, remove the stems, cores, and seeds, and place the peppers in your food processor. You may want to have a roll of paper towels or a wet kitchen towel nearby, as this can be a little messy–the seeds love to cling to your hands!
Add the walnuts and remaining ingredients to the food processor, and process till smooth and scrumptious! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks. Serve with raw or cooked veggies, chicken, potatoes, Five Monsters Paleo Faux-lafel, or anything that could use a little extra deliciousness!
*To make your own pomegranate molasses, cook down unsweetened pomegranate juice, uncovered, over medium-medium low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 75 minutes). The pomegranate molasses will keep for at least a month in an airtight container in the fridge.
For the printable recipe click here.