This Muhammara red pepper spread is the easiest to make. No special ingredients or spices are needed. Oil-free, so also a low-calorie version.
What is muhammara?
Muhammara is a spread, a dip, made of red bell peppers and walnuts. Both are roasted first to give extra delicious flavor and some sweetness. Muhammara originates from Middle Eastern and is often served with warm pita bread.
Many say that Muhammara originates from Aleppo in Syria; this is why many recipes use especially Aleppo pepper in the recipe. Muhammara is though served in the whole Levant area, such as Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordania, and Turkey.
The word muhammara originates from the Arabic language. Ahmar means red. The red bell pepper spread is deliciously red in color. If you add some tomato paste, the color intensifies.
What does muhammara taste?
Roasted bell peppers give a lovely sweet, deep flavor. Some chili or cayenne pepper gives some heat to it that you can easily adjust by the amount. Muhammara has a tangy taste, is full of nuances, and creamy. It is somewhat sweet, spicy, and savory.
What is the authentic recipe?
Muhammara is traditionally made of:
- Roasted bell peppers
- Roasted walnuts
- Olive oil
- Pomegranate molasses
- Aleppo pepper
- Bread crumbs
- Flavoring; such as garlic, sumac, and cumin
Maybe the unique ingredient is the pomegranate molasses, which gives this spread a special acidity, sweetness, and tang.
Aleppo pepper is also interesting. It is not like chili, so it would burn your mouth immediately, but instead has some tones of mild spiciness and sweetness.
These ingredients are tough to find where I live, so I have replaced them with other ingredients you can find in all grocery stores.
What do you eat this with?
Muhammara makes a great bread spread. You can replace butter and cheese with this delicious tangy spread. This is an especially great spread for vegans and plant-based eaters. Muhammara is a part of many meze platters ( small tapas). Often pita bread and different spreads are a part of a meze platter. Hummus, Muhammara, and Baba Ganoush are famous sauces you can find on a middle eastern meze platter.
Muhammara makes a great sauce. You can use it to flavor your pasta as a base for a pizza instead of tomato sauce. Muhammara goes well with different salads to flavor them also. Try it out in this pasta salad, replacing the green pesto.
Muhammara is a delicious dip. Dip some greens or crackers.
My tip is to try it out as a pasta sauce; fry some seitan salami, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and olives with pasta and muhammara as a sauce. Decorate with fresh basil.
Check also this stinging nettle recipe for another idea on a plant-based spread.
Calories and nutritional value
The whole amount of calories in the muhammara spread of the fiberfoodfactory recipe is 1100 kcal. Fat 69grams, carbs 80 grams, and 29 grams of fiber.
By not using oil, you save many unnecessary calories. Nuts are very caloric dense, but remember that walnuts have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. This spread also has a high level of vitamin A and C, B6, E, and even 10 mg of iron.
This recipe has more bell peppers than nuts, and this is a way to reduce calories also.
You might find it hard to find pomegranate molasses. It can be replaced by some acidity and sweetness from other ingredients. Lemon juice or vinegar gives acidity to this spread. I think the best replacement is balsamic vinegar; even better if you have a balsamic syrup because it has more sweetness to it.
You can add simple sugar, honey, or maple syrup for some sweetness. I use dates because it is a natural sweetener, and it has some fiber as well.
If you don´t have walnuts at home, use cashew nuts instead.
As for spices, you can use ground cumin, black pepper, white pepper, chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or paprika powder. I usually use red chili flakes because I love some heat. I also added smoked paprika powder. I like it; some don´t. It does taste quite powerful and gives a smoky flavor. You can find the smoky paprika powder as a mild version and a spicy one.
Some more questions
You can make muhammara with seeds instead. I recommend hemp seeds. You can also try sunflower seeds. Some toasted pine nuts give a lovely piquant taste. A variety of seeds also works great.
Replace the 1 cup of walnuts with ½ cup sunflower seeds and ½ cup hemp seeds. Other seeds you can u0022play aroundu0022 with are pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Pumpkin seeds have a powerful flavor, so I would not use the whole amount of those. If you use green pumpkin seeds, you get a brown paste, so it might not look so delicious.
To make gluten-free Muhammara is simple, replace the breadcrumbs with a piece of dry gluten-free white bread. You don´t necessarily need to add any bread to the spread, but it is just slightly moister.
You can easily roast your bell peppers and walnuts in the air fryer. It takes a much shorter time than in the oven. If you use an air fryer, make only half a batch of the recipe. Three bell peppers fit in a large air fryer basket quite well, especially if you choose a long and flat variety of bell peppers. You don´t need to cut them.
Roast the bell peppers at 200 C, 390F for 10-12 minutes.
Roast the walnuts at 180 C, 360F for 2 minutes.
This bell pepper spread will stay in the fridge for up to 5 days. But I am sure it will not last long before you eat it. For us, it just vanishes in two days. You can freeze it, but I have never done it, so I can´t say how it affects the taste; I think it can be a bit more watery then.