Muhammara is a middle eastern roasted red pepper and walnut dip similar in consistency to hummus. It’s rich, nutty, and sweet and pairs perfectly with crisp vegetables for a vegan/paleo/whole 30 cocktail party offering. This dip is ready in under thirty minutes and can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. I love serving individual portions in plastic party cups – they’re pretty, fun, and portable. Perfect party food!
It’s day 5 of holiday party appetizer week, and I have to say – this has been the most fun week on the blog that I’ve ever had. We’re finishing up our cocktail party menu with this sweet, nutty middle eastern red pepper dip called muhammara. It’s pronounced “moora-moora” and that’s because you want to eat more and more. Heh. Heh. Heh. Okay, I’ll stop now.
But seriously, muhammara is my jam. I got really into this dip the first time Cameron and I did a Whole 30. We are snackers by nature (sorry hardcore W30-ers) and we needed something to fill that void. Muhammara fills it perfectly. It’s just sweet enough to curb a craving, and packed with enough protein and fat to feel rich and satisfying.
It’s also a rockstar party food, and I make this for nearly every gathering we host. It’s vegetarian, vegan, paleo, whole 30, grain free, gluten free, and dairy free, which means guests of nearly every dietary persuasion will have at least one thing they can enjoy – and that one thing happens to be easy and fast to prepare, and incredibly tasty to boot.
Muhammara Party Cup Recipe Notes
Muhammara comes together super fast (just about 25 minutes) and can be prepared up to three days in advance. Sometimes I even prepare the sliced vegetables a day in advance. I wrap the sliced vegetables in damp paper towels and then tuck them into a ziplock bag into the fridge (leave the bag unzipped so they get some air circulation). Party go-time is so much easier when you have an easy appetizer that you can whip together just moments before guests arrive.
This dip comes together in a snap with the aid of your trusty food processor. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we need to toast the walnuts and reduce a little pomegranate juice.
Traditional muhammara calls for pomegranate molasses, which you can absolutely use if you have access to it. It can be found in middle eastern or halal markets, and sometimes at asian markets. If you don’t have access to these resources, reduced pomegranate juice gets the job done, and gets it done well. You’ll need one cup of pomegranate juice, and PomWonderful sells cute little individual 8-oz bottles at most chain supermarkets. Bring the juice to a boil in a small sauce pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook it down until its a nice, thick syrup that can easily coat a spoon. It takes about 10 minutes.
Then you’ll toast the walnuts until they’re golden brown and fragrant. I do this on the stove in my cast iron skillet, but they can also be roasted in a 375* oven for about 8 or so minutes. Take care not to burn the walnuts, or the dip will taste awful.
Place the toasted walnuts into the bowl of your food processor along with the pomegranate syrup, roasted red peppers, smashed garlic, and a few healthy pinches of salt and pepper.
Pulse the nuts and peppers et. al. until ground, then feed in some extra virgin olive oil. Aaaaaaand….we’re done.
It’s yum time! For serving, you can scrape this into a bowl, drizzle with a little more olive oil and cracked black pepper and serve with a try of your favorite crunchy vegetables and perhaps some pita chips. Or, you can go all pinterest on this dip and make these adorable individual serving cups. THEY ARE SO CUTE! Plus they make the experience more fun, and I find that the funner the food, the more likely it is my kid will eat it (or at the very least try).
Just spoon about two tablespoons of dip into the bottom of a plastic cup and insert a variety of sliced vegetables on top. I went with red (radish), white (jicama), and green (celery and cucumber) hued veggies to keep this as corny and seasonal as possible.
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Muhammara Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip
- 1 c pomegranate juice or 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 c whole raw walnuts about 6 oz.
- 12 oz jar roasted red peppers drained
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/4 c unfiltered extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
Suggested Vegetable Accompaniments
- 1 jicama peeled and sliced into sticks
- 1/2 lb radishes thinly sliced
- 1 head celery trimmed and sliced into sticks
- 2 cucumbers trimmed and sliced into sticks
- Heat the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan over high heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, swirling occasionally, until the juice reduces to a syrup, 10-11 minutes. It’s ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Final yield will be approximately 2 tbsp. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and toast, shaking frequently, until the walnuts are golden brown and extremely fragrant, 4 minutes.
- Transfer the walnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Add the red peppers, pomegranate syrup, garlic, salt, and a pepper. Turn on the food processor and pulse until a thick paste forms. Flip the motor to continuous processing and slowly pour in the olive oil. Continue processing until the walnuts are pulverized and the dip is smooth. Add additional olive oil if the dip seems too thick. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Transfer the dip to a serving bowl using a rubber spatula. Drizzle with olive oil and chopped parsley and serve immediately. Alternatively, place two tablespoons of dip into 12 individual plastic cups, and top with a small drizzle of olive oil and sliced vegetables of your choice. Muhammara can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up the 4 days.
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