I've been craving muhammara. I think it started when my sister introduced me to the new (to me) species of fresh red peppers in Istanbul - fat, long, pointy, sweet and tangy, crisp, super refreshing. I did find some fresh red peppers here that were quite similar. They're called 'Ancient Sweets', imported from Mexico and described on the package as 'mysteriously sweet long peppers.'
Muhammara can be on the heavy side, and I wanted to make a refreshing summery version. Here it is.
2 fresh red peppers
3/4 c walnuts
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp pomegranate syrup
11/2 c canned canellini beans
2 tbsp olive oil
Cut the red peppers into 1" chunks and chop them up in the food processor. Add about half a cup of the walnuts and the rest of the ingredients, chop fine. Add the remaining walnuts and pulse only a couple of times, to give it some texture. Cover and chill. That's it.
Play around with the ingredient amounts to make it suit your palate. Never ever assume my measurements give the best results. Remember, my kitchen motto is 'Wing It!'
Aleppo peppers are mildly hot red pepper flakes, called 'kebab peppers' in Turkey. You can get it at Penzey's. (Better yet, go to Penzey's if you can and lose track of time.)
Traditional muhammara generally has chopped garlic, but my head of garlic turned out to be a hideous empty brown shell. I think it actually turned out more refreshing without the garlic, but if we were sitting down to an evening-long rakı (or arak or ouzo) table, I'd definitely include the garlic.
What I'm happiest with is the beans. Normally, you'd add bread to give the muhammara body. But I'm trying to stay away from white bread, and the multi-grain seeded bread just didn't seem right. So what to do? Beans, I thought. Turned out to be an excellent addition, if I do say so myself.
I warmed up a whole wheat tortilla, spread the muhammara on it, and devoured it with much happiness. It would be a good substitute for mayonnaise in chicken salad, or as a sauce for hamburgers or grilled anything.
This is a super nutritious and healthy dish with a very low glycemic index, and the addition of beans also makes it a good protein source. And it tastes very very good.