A well-known kebab restaurant chain dropped-off at the door of every building in our neighborhood a new menu titled “Holy Season Fasting Menu”; it featured only vegetarian dishes suitable to those following Lent.
In the savory pastries section, turnovers (fatayer) were listed stuffed with muhammara or red pepper/walnut dip. I cheated a bit and stuffed half of them with a combo of muhammara (made the previous week) and shredded cheese (Akkawi, similar to mozzarella); in Beirut, one can buy ready-made muhammara from good markets or delis; making a batch one day and freezing it is another option. A good muhammara will have plenty of walnuts, some red pepper paste and spices (cumin, garlic, pomegranate molasses). It keeps in the fridge for at least a week if made without fresh onions (my preference).
This recipe uses tahini in the paste.
- 2 cups walnuts, soaked in water for one hour then drained
- a small onion, chopped (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, mashed in a mortar with salt
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup tahini (optional)
- 1/4 cup red pepper paste (can substitute 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped) or a can of red peppers
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- dash cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup (or more) olive oil
1. Place the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and run the machine until a paste forms; taste and adjust seasoning. Keep in a closed container in the fridge until needed, or in the freezer for 2 weeks.
NOTE: If using red bell peppers, they can be broiled till charred, placed in a plastic bag and skinned, then seeded. They can also be used seeded and raw.
Make a dough which could be a pizza dough or a Lebanese meat pie dough. Let the dough rise for a couple of hours or in the fridge covered overnight; roll out and cut into circles; place a teaspoon or more of muhammara and pinch the three corners shut; place in a greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or so in a preheated 350F oven. Serve when a bit cooled.
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