Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski
Mouhamarah, pronounced “Moo-hum-moo-rah,” means “reddened,” referring to this savory spread’s bright crimson color. Mouhamarah originated in Aleppo, Syria, and is served throughout the Middle East, usually as a part of the mezza. Smoky-sweet roasted red peppers take the stage, combined with sweet roasted garlic cloves and caramelized onions. Toasted walnuts, pomegranate molasses, a hint of fresh lemon juice, and crushed Aleppo red pepper flakes add even more flavor to my mouhamarah, which you can make using an outdoor grill or in the oven.
Mouhamarah is a perfect spread for my Sumac and Sesame Seed Pita Crisps and is also delicious with grilled vegetables, steak, shrimp, and scallops.
MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS
1 head garlic (about 10 cloves)
1 1⁄2 cups whole walnuts, unsalted and toasted
3 medium red bell peppers
2⁄3 cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1⁄4 teaspoons sea salt
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 1⁄2 teaspoons Aleppo crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Wrap the head of garlic in aluminum foil and place on the middle rack of the preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the garlic is completely softened. When roasted, remove from the oven, unwrap the foil (wearing mitts!), and set aside slightly to cool.
While the garlic is roasting, spread out the walnuts in an even layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven and transfer to a small mixing bowl to cool.
Preheat a grill, or set the oven to broil. Lightly oil the bell peppers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1⁄4 teaspoon of the sea salt. Place on the hot grill (if using) or on a baking sheet under the broiler for 10 to 15 minutes, turning them occasionally, until all sides are evenly charred, the peppers are slightly deflated, and the skin is blistered; this will facilitate peeling off the skins later. Transfer the peppers to a large mixing bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to steam.
While the peppers steam, heat 1⁄4 cup of the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion, season with 1⁄2 teaspoon of the sea salt and toss to coat with the oil. Cook until softened, and lightly golden, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then transfer to a food processor.
By now, the bell peppers should be softened and cool enough to peel. With a small paring knife, scrape the charred skins off the flesh, then slice the roasted peppers down the center and discard the stems and seeds. Transfer all the peppers to the food processor.
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into the food processor. Pulse this mixture a few times, just enough to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the toasted walnuts and with the food processor running, stream in 1⁄4 cup olive oil until a thick texture forms. Pour in the lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper. Pulse the mixture a few more times to combine and create a thick-textured spread with small pieces of walnuts throughout.
To serve, spread out on a plate, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes. Serve with pita chips.
Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.
RECIPE BY JULIE ANN SAGEER (JULIE TABOULIE)
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