Homemade vegetable dips are a great way to highlight end-of-season produce. This is a Syrian classic featuring peppers. Although the recipe calls for sweet red peppers, all types of peppers can be used. If you prefer it a bit spicier, mix in some jalapeños or other hot peppers. Pomegranate molasses adds a sweet-sour tang and the walnuts give the dip an earthy taste and hearty texture. Serve it with crispy pita triangles alongside a bowl of plain yogurt dusted with ground sumac.
Total time: 20 mins
Make Ahead: The dip improves in flavor if made a couple of days in advance of serving and kept in the refrigerator.
Servings: 3 - 4
Yield: (makes about 2 1/4 cups)
- 1 1/2 pounds red bell peppers (may substitute a 15-ounce jar of drained roasted red peppers)
- 1/2 cup coarsely ground shelled walnuts
- 3 tablespoons sesame rice cracker crumbs or breadcrumbs
- Zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 4 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile paste, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Roast the peppers over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning until blackened and blistered all over. Place them in a paper bag to soften for a few minutes to loosen their skins. Slip the skins off the peppers; use a paring knife to remove any stubborn bits of skin. Slit the peppers open and remove the seeds, membranes and stems. Drain the peppers in a colander or pat them with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to soak up excess liquid.
Meanwhile, combine the walnuts and cracker crumbs in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the bell peppers, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and ground cumin and blend until creamy. Add the chile paste and salt to taste.
To serve, drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with a combination of finely chopped parsley and the lemon zest.
Adapted from "Mediterranean Cooking," by Paula Wolfert (Harper Collins, 1977).
Tested by Cynthia A. Brown.
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