Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gülümay’s Walnut-Garlic Spread with Hot and Sweet Peppers and Pomegranate Syrup (Muhammara)

The busier I am, the more I take my clothes off, and no, it’s not as much fun as it sounds. I have been a busy little bee lately. A busy, clothes changing, dance video studying, rehearsal directing, Cunningham technique teaching bee. I’m a little too vain to traipse around the city in sweats and sneakers between my classes and rehearsals which are located at all corners of the city, so I choose an outfit in the morning, change into dance clothes to teach, and repeat this action three or more tedius times (snow boots on, snow boots off, all those bulky winter layers), depending on the number of classes I’m teaching and where. Now, I’m on spring break from the work I've been doing on Merce Cunningham’s Summerspace at Juilliard, and I have a much needed four day weekend, and a little time for blogging about delicious muhammara. In one outfit -- pajamas.

Muhammara is a roasted red pepper based Syrian spread which is now made in many surrounding areas, including Turkey. It is a healthy, and vibrant tasting dish, with a touch of sweetness that mitigates the spice of added chiles. I like this for breakfast, on my toast, but most of you will probably serve this as a spread for pita bread as an appetizer before a middle eastern meal.

In addition to being addictively savory, muhammara is also nutrient dense, and contains Vitamin C from the red peppers, Omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts, some anti-oxidant properties in the pomegranate syrup, and anti-inflammatory activity in the garlic. In a food processor, it takes no time at all to make, but unfortunately, it also takes no time at all to eat; make a double recipe.

Gülümay’s Walnut-Garlic Spread with Hot and Sweet Peppers and Pomegranate Syrup (Muhammara)
from Ayla Algar’s Classical Turkish Cooking

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

2 large sweet red peppers (12 oz)
1 tablespoon water
2/3 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2/3 cup toasted sourdough bread crumbs
1 or 2 red jalapeños, seeded and minced (I used green ones)
1/4 cup fine olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground cumin seeds
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons pomegranate syrup (available in middle eastern markets)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Although there is no real substitute for the sweet and sour flavor of pomegranate syrup, lemon juice will be adequate.

Roast peppers over a grill or gas flame, turning frequently until charred all over. Seal 10 minutes in a plastic bag, peel, seed, and chop. In a food processor, mix chopped peppers with 1 tablespoon water. Process to a moist paste. Set aside.

Pound walnuts with a garlic in a mortar. Stir in bread crumbs and jalapeños. Continue pounding until all ingredients are blended. Mix in the pureed peppers. Gradually mix in the olive oil and season with cumin, red pepper flakes, pomegranate syrup, and lemon juice (use additional lemon juice if pomegranate syrup is unavailable). Taste and adjust with salt and lemon juice. (Alternatively, you can make the whole dish in a food processor.) Let stand several hours or overnight for the flavors to blend and mature. Serve with croutons or on flatbread wedges or crackers.

Note from Banu: I sprinkled the top of mine with a few leaves of chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.


natural selection said...

There you are!nice to have you back a busy week for you but a productive one and a perfect recipe to match!
and I can relate to the winter clothes and boots thing you just get fed up with the clunky boots and heavy coats!

Chef E said...

Could you pass me some of that energy and a bowl of that walnut spread! I made that in my health food cafe, people are surprised at how fabulous it tastes!

Richard said...

Winter layers huh? Glad it's 75 here today! :D

Bo said...

This sounds so healthy...but still delicious...I will have to give it a try next time I go on a health food binge.

Geoffrey said...

Looks really good! If only peppers weren't such a mess to roast and peel and deseed....

Citrus Quark said...

OMG - the idea is using pomegranate is fabulous. i must try this soon! thanks for the recipe.

Hathor's Bath said...

Another great recipe - your walnut-feta spread was on my menu for weeks in the morning, it was so lovely! Looking forward to giving this a go as the combination gives the impression of summer. O, wishful thinking!

Chris Ogan said...

One of my very favorites, as you know. I have fond memories at eating this in Istanbul at Necla and Kenan's home--and learning how to make it from her. But I have to admit that I occasionally cheat and use roasted red peppers in a bottle. Not as good, but very satisfactory.

Dreamfarm Girl said...

sounds divine!

Banu said...

Aw, thanks everyone. Yes, as Chris says, in a pinch it's ok to use jarred red peppers, but it really isn't too difficult to char over an open gas flame and peel them -- use a paper towel, and the skin comes right off, Enjoy, everyone.

Katherine said...

Mmm Mmm Mmm ... looks so yummy!

Melissa Peterman said...

Hi Banu!

We've selected you as our Foodista Food Blog of the Day for this Sunday, March 21st! Your recipe for Gülümay’s Walnut-Garlic Spread with Hot and Sweet Peppers and Pomegranate Syrup will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours. This is a new feature that we recently launched and are thrilled to post your blog.

Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Blogger of The Day Community, we've created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn't find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I'll send it right away.
We are really enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your recipes, tips and techniques on Foodista! If you would not like to be recognized on Foodista please let me know and I will remove your blog from our queue.



Melissa Peterman
Editor and Community Developer
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Patty said...

Wow that looks fantastic, I'm a big fan of Mediterranean food, thanks for posting the recipe!

Cool Lassi(e) said...

It was your name that drove me to check your blog. I know a couple of friends who go by your name.
Your space and the Spread is simply fabulous. I am so following you. Budget meals sound divine.Juts what I need.
BTW,I have an excellent giveaway going on at my spot. Come check my latest post if choice items like Le crueset Baking pans, platzgraff tortilla warmer etc etc might be of interest to you

Cindy said...

This is an absolutely fabulous recipe to use over eggs.

Amy said...

wow..that sounds so yummy..How does the creamy sauce taste like? is that hot? ohh if that so then I would love to give a try at home :)

Carrie said...

Well,This is an absolutely fabulous recipe and the sounds so healthy,but still delicious.I will have to give it a try next time I go on a health food binge.

sadie said...

I have fond memories at eating this in Istanbul at Necla and Kenan's home.

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