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 like?
Roasted bell peppers give a lovely sweet, deep flavor. Muhammara has a tangy taste, is full of nuances, and creamy. It is somewhat sweet, spicy, and savory. Some chili or cayenne pepper gives some heat to it that you can easily adjust by the amount.
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 most special ingredient is the pomegranate molasses, which gives this spread a special kind of acidity, sweetness, and tang.
Aleppo pepper is also interesting. It is not like chili, so it would burn your mouth immediately, but rather 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 sauce. Decorate with fresh basil.
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 nd 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 as well. 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 is hard to find pomegranate molasses. It can be replaced by some acidity and sweetness of 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.
For some sweetness, you can add simple sugar, honey, or maple syrup. I use dates because it really is a natural sweetener, and it has some fiber as well.
If you don´t have walnuts at home, use cashewnuts 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 add smoked paprika powder. I like it; some don´t. It does taste quite powerful and give 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 of hemp seeds. Other seeds you can "play around" 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 appetizing.
To make gluten-free Muhammara is really simple, just 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 then 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. 3 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 in 180 C, 360F for 2 minutes.
This bell pepper spread will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. But am sure it will not last that long before you eat it. For us, it just vanishes in two days. You can freeze it, but I have never done it, so can´t say how it affects the taste, I think it can be a bit more watery then.
- 6 Red Bell Peppers
- 2 garlic cloves, (optional)
- 1 cup, 100 grams walnuts
- ½ lemon, 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 dates or 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon roasted paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste(optional)
- ¼ cup (60ml) bread crumbs or a bit dry white bread (optional)
- Start by roasting the red peppers on parchment paper in the oven.
- Heat your oven to 425 F (225 Celcius). Cut your bell peppers in half and remove the seeds. If you use long, flatter bell peppers, you don´t need to cut them.
- Roast your bell peppers in the oven for 20-30 minutes, so they get some nice color on the surface. Toss in your garlic cloves in the oven for the last 10 minutes.
- Let your peppers cool for a while, and remove the skins.
- Roast your walnuts in the oven or on a pan so that they get a little color. Make sure they don´t burn.
- Put all your ingredients I a food processor and make them into a fine paste.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 118Total Fat: 6,9gCarbohydrates: 9,4gFiber: 3gProtein: 3,2g