This vibrant roasted red pepper & walnut dip, known as muhammara, makes for the most delicious Christmas appetizer. It has just enough spice and tons of rich flavor. Full of sweet roasted red peppers, toasted walnuts & grainy bread, bright lemon, tangy pomegranate molasses, and bold spices. It gets pulsed up until creamy and topped with pomegranate seeds and chives. Serve it with toasted pita bread for a festive, flavorful start to your meal.
roasted red pepper & walnut dip – the details
Muhammara is a traditional Middle Eastern dip that I love ordering at restaurants, and it’s actually really simple to make at home. While you could eat it any time of the year, I thought it’d be such a festive appetizer for Christmas with its beautiful bright red colors.
You’ll start by roasting the red peppers. The oven does all the work as the peppers char on the outside and their flavor intensifies. After roasting, the skins easily peel off, leaving you with soft, bright red peppers for the dip.
To give the dip it’s body & texture, walnuts and bread (I like to use a fresh loaf of whole grain bread) get coated in olive oil and toasted until crisp and fragrant. The walnuts add a nutty, rich bite to the dip and work really well with the sweet peppers. Reserve some of the walnuts for topping, and the rest get pulsed up with the peppers and bread in a food processor.
For flavor – lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, paprika, and aleppo pepper (if you can’t find aleppo pepper, crushed red pepper works as well).
The result is a bright, slightly sweet, rich dip bursting with flavor and texture. The heat from the aleppo pepper is there but subtle…you can always add more to your liking.
You can do so many things with this red pepper & walnut dip – slather it onto toast, use it as a dip for raw carrots and radishes, serve it as a sauce for roasted meat, or even mix it in with scrambled eggs.
As an appetizer, my favorite thing to do is buy some store-bought pita bread, slice it into quarters, drizzle it with olive oil, and toast it until crisp. You can of course just buy pita chips as well, especially if you’re trying to keep things simple for the holidays!
Finish everything off with the festive toppings – juicy pomegranate seeds, fresh chives, an extra drizzle or two of pomegranate molasses, and those reserved toasted walnuts for some crunch.Print
Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut Dip (Muhammara)
my version of muhammara – a traditional, vibrant middle eastern red pepper and walnut dip with toasted pita bread on the side
- 3 lbs red bell peppers, halved lengthwise + stemmed
- olive oil
- 4 oz walnuts (approximately 1 cup)
- 2 oz fresh whole grain bread, cubed ½”
- 4 large pita bread, cut into quarters
- kosher salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp aleppo pepper (or crushed red pepper)
- 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the red peppers onto a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss well to evenly coat the peppers. Lay them out into an even layer, cut-side down. Roast the peppers for about 45 minutes, until slightly blackened and fully softened. Let cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, add the walnuts and cubed bread to another sheet pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and toss to coat. Spread the walnuts and bread into an even layer. Season with a pinch of salt. Toast for 5 minutes, or until crisp and fragrant. Transfer a ¼ cup of the walnuts to a cutting board and roughly chop them. Transfer the remaining walnuts and bread to the bowl of a food processor and let cool.
- Arrange the quartered pita bread into an even layer on the same sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Let cool.
- When the red peppers are cooled, peel and discard the skins. Add the peppers to the food processor, along with the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, paprika, aleppo pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pulse until combined (the dip should be creamy but still have texture). Season with salt to taste.
- Spread the dip onto a platter or serve it in a bowl. Top with the remaining walnuts, pomegranate seeds, chives, and a few extra drizzles of pomegranate molasses. Serve with the toasted pita bread alongside.
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