Another taste of the middle east, another condiment to make life better, to make the ordinary extraordinary. Maybe I am over stating the case – trying to catch your attention with bold claims. In truth – I really do love the way having bold flavoured condiments in my pantry and refrigerator can take a group of ingredients and make them special.
I wrote a while ago about trying to cook once and eat twice and in many ways I fail absolutely in this – there is either too much or not enough when it comes to leftovers and somehow they rarely work out to be that clever meal remade into something new and exciting the next day. Condiments are my exception to this, they really are the magic to make meals great and I love having a changing mix of these to make my every day meals better.
This sauce is great in that the flavours come together and get even better over a few days and keep for up to a week in your refrigerator. There are so many ways you can use your Muhammara …
- In your favourite burger or slider or wrap.
- Dolloped over your roast vegetable salad.
- Beside your roast beef, lamb or chicken.
- Spooned into a jacket roast potato or sweet potato.
- On your antipasto platter with crusty bread, olives, aged hard cheeses such as goudas, pecorino and chedder and chargrilled vegetables.
- As part of your mixed lunch salad bowl with some grain,avocado, tomato, greens and hummus.
- On top of falafels or bite size fritters.
- Spooned into a field mushroom and grilled.
Think about your favourite Mediterranean / middle eastern flavours and this will work along side them perfectly.
I made this batch today with the last of this seasons walnuts and peppers that are finally coming on special occasionally, but it is a sauce to remember again in autumn when these ingredients are all at their peak. Its also another way of using up that heel of bread that is going nowhere other than the chickens, I used a wholemeal bread but what ever you have to hand will be great. It might also be another use for that bottle of pomegranate molasses in the pantry that seldom sees the light of day. * if you don’t have pomegranate molasses you could substitute half a tablespoon of your best vinegar and a tablespoon of maple syrup, date syrup or other sweetener*
Check out the walnuts in the photo, so beautiful! My friend Megan gave them to me after a trip to the North Island, they are amazing – enormous, sweet and deliciously waxy. They were the ultimate convenience walnut – so little shelling for so much reward. I remember my much loved mother in law had a walnut tree like this, and in season she shared them with the southern branch of the family, maybe it is a North Island variety, or just thoughtful planting.
I love this kind of food gift, seasonal foods that while you have a glut of something, for the next person it is a sought after treasure. The act of sharing, and sometimes the surprise gifts that come back to you, has an old fashioned charm to it that I love, and possibly also some important lessons in using and sharing what is seasonal and available without waste for the greater good.
SMOKEY RED PEPER AND WALNUT MUHAMMARA
Makes approximately 2 cups
- 1 cup bread roughly cubed (this could also be your favourite gluten free bread)
- 3 char grilled roast peppers
- 50-70 grams (1/2 cup)walnut pieces
- Chilli flakes to taste ( I use 1 Tbsp Korean chilli-flakes that I make Kimchi with as these have good colour and are quite mild but I think 1 tsp of normal chilli flakes or siracha chilli sauce would be plenty – less if you are not a chilli fan)
- 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprica
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses *see note above for substitution*
- 1/2 a lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup of olive oil to loosen and bring together as a thick sauce.
Using your food processor or pestle and mortar, firstly give the bread a rough chop.
Add the rest of the ingredients including the first 1/4 cup of olive oil to your food processor.
Pulse once or twice to start bringing your ingredients together and check the taste and texture – It should be a thick pesto like consistency – add a little more olive oil and seasonings if it is needed (the amount of olive oil will vary according to the bread you have used and It is easy enough to stir through extra later rather than add to much at this point).
Give it a couple more pulses to bring together, I think this sauce is best a little chunky still so take care not to over blend.
I love the rich smokey goodness of this sauce and you can eat it straight away, but the flavours will develop over time so its a good one to make ahead. I hope you will try this and let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do.