This week, I tried a second recipe from The Language of Baklava: muhammara.
Muhammara is a dip that originated in Syria, but is now eaten across the Middle East. While there seem to be a number of different versions of the dish, the central ingredients are the same: red peppers, walnuts and pomegranate.
Diana Abu-Jabar's recipe for muhamarra involves roasted red pepper, walnuts, puréed tomato, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes and spices, as well as pomegranate juice and olive oil. The instructions are incredibly simple: assemble the ingredients, and purée.
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the dip the night that I assembled it. Something about the lighting in my kitchen made the puréed mixture look bright pink, and suspiciously similar to ham salad.
However, when I pulled the dip out of the refrigerator the next day, I could see that, rather than being pink, the mixture has more of a burnt orange color. And, of course, it tasted nothing like ham salad. The flavor is hard to describe, but it has elements of sweet, spicy and hot, and is pleasant to eat atop crispy bits of toasted pita. Since there's no dairy, and the dip doesn't really need to be refrigerated, it would be a nice lunch to pack for a hike.
The recipe from Language of Baklava called for the dip to be topped with chopped flat leaf parsley. I didn't have any parsley on hand, so I used chopped cilantro, and threw on a few walnut bits as well. The cilantro blended nicely with the spicy/sweetness of the dip, making this a goof that I might intentionally repeat.
While I was putting together this post, I took a look at other recipes for muhammara on the internet. Many of them use pomegranate molasses, rather than pomegranate juice. I plan to try that variation in the future, just to see what sort of difference the molasses might make. (While I love pomegranates, I didn't really enjoy the leftover pomegranate juice -- I'm thinking that I might have more uses for pomegranate molasses.)