I love dips. They’re such fun. Great for sharing, great for eating alone. And hey, eating them alone means it’s okay to double dip! They’re wonderful for an energizing and tasty snack and perfect as part of a meal. Sometimes the ingredients that make up a dip are truly beautiful together. Separate them, and perhaps they’re lovely in their own way. Maybe. . .
Today we’re making a Raw Muhamarra dip recipe. (More on that later). First, confession time: I’m generally not a huge fan of one of today’s dip’s main ingredient. Bell peppers.
To me, their flavor tends to dominate a dish. If I order a veggie pizza or a salad, for example, I’ll ask them to leave bell pepps out of the mix if at all possible. Even bell peppers that aren’t organically grown seem to have that dominating taste fully intact.
So why then, do I love them so much in today’s dip, Muhammara? Maybe because they marry so well with fresh walnuts, pomegranate, and a dash of cumin. Perhaps the other ingredients bring out the best in the peppers, and maybe even vice versa. What can I say? Life is full of mysteries, no?
An aside. It’s funny to think of how strong that bell pepper flavor can be, especially when you consider how other garden goodies often lose their taste completely when they’re mass-produced. True story: Until visiting Syria, I was under the impression that I hated apricots. To me, they were flavorless, mealy, and bland. A total waste of time! A season of locally grown Syrian apricots disabused me of that notion. They were similar in texture to a ripe peach or nectarine, and so fragrant and juicy! But back stateside, such tender and tasty apricots are nearly impossible to find, at least in my experience.
So this is my convoluted way of saying: Bell peppers must be pretty darn strong to resist the forces of mass production. Other produce isn’t so lucky. Paging tomatoes and store-bought apples!
The one place where I truly LOVE bell peppers is in Muhammara dip. Today’s version looks something like this. Google around, and you’ll see that some recipes are darker in color.
This dip is a staple in countires like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan. Here’s my recipe for a fully raw Muhamarra dip. I’ll post the (lightly) cooked version soon, so that you can compare and decide which one you like best. For the record, this dip makes a fantastic salad dressing when thinned out with a bit of water.
Bonus: Bell peppers are in season now, and I got mine from the farmer’s market. They were so sweet and almost too beautiful to eat!
Raw Muhamarra Dip
3 Cups red bell pepper chunks (usually from about 2 large peppers, or 4 smaller ones)
11/2 Cups raw walnuts
2-3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, or paste or molasses (if using the paste or a store-bought, jarred pom juice, it’s not strictly raw, just FYI)
2-3 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon of ground cumin
Pinch of salt (to taste)
Drizzle of olive oil (a Tablespoon or two)
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend until smooth and silky. Adjust seasoning, lemon, and olive oil to taste. Re-blend if needed. That’s it!
The dip will thicken if refrigerated. Serve with raw veggies. Slices of fresh zucchini are my favorite.
NOTE: You might be tempted to add more liquid to get the ingredients to meld and blend. If you choose to do so, just go very slowly. You can always add more liquid, but it’s hard to get the dip to thicken up if it’s become too watery. Hey now–Don’t toss it if you find it too watery. Give it a chance to thicken up in the fridge. Or use it as a sauce, sandwich spread, and/or salad dressing.