Muhammara, a word that means “reddened” is a dip in our neck of the woods; it originated in Aleppo in Syria but is prepared and served as a mezze (appetizer) all over Lebanon. When I first tasted it in the town of Zahlé, in the Bekaa valley, a town famous for its restaurants serving magnificent mezze spreads, it was love at first bite.
Muhammara in various versions is also prepared in Armenian and Turkish kitchens.
I am making a modified version of it and instead of serving it as a dip to go with pita croutons as is traditional, serving muhammara with pasta, as a sauce.
- 1 package of penne pasta
- 1 can of roasted red pepper, or 3 or 4 red peppers, roasted and peeled
- olive oil, as needed (can substitute walnut oil)
- 3 kaak breadsticks with sesame or 1/2 cup of dry breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup of walnuts
- 1 Tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
- 2 cloves of garlic, mashed with a pinch of salt
- 1 Tablespoon of hot Aleppo pepper or hot paprika or hot chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup of parsley, chopped fine
- salt, pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- Place the red peppers, breadsticks or bread crumbs, mashed garlic, cumin, Aleppo pepper, 1/3 cup of olive oil or walnut oil, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, salt and pepper in a food processor. Puree for 2 minutes.
- Boil the pasta, add the sauce, toss, sprinkle with parsley and serve.