Muhammara – red pepper and walnut dip.

Sometimes, the co-op has some really good deals. Last week, they were selling lots of red peppers greatly reduced, so I made this. It is great as a dip along with hummus, and served with flat bread. It is a traditional dish, and there are loads of recipes online, twisting up the flavour in different ways. I’ve added a few suggestions of alternatives in brackets. The basic ingredients are red peppers, garlic and walnuts. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 red peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (you can increase this quite a bit, according to taste, use a mild pepper such as pul biber, or Aleppo chilli flakes))
  • (I have also made this by adding a couple of fresh hot chilli peppers to the roasting stage)
  • (You can add toasted breadcrumbs too)
  • (1 tsp cumin)
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • (you can use a pinch of powdered sumac instead of the vinegar or lemon juice)
  • (you could use pomegranate molasses and/or lemon juice instead of vinegar)
  • 60g walnuts (you can toast the walnuts first) 
  • salt

METHOD:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220C
  • Quarter the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds, and mix with the oil. Spread them out on a baking sheet, skin side up and put them in the oven for 15 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, spread the walnuts out on another baking sheet, and pop them in the oven for around 10 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
  • Once the peppers have been in for 15 minutes, add the garlic cloves and pop them back into the oven for another 15 minutes. The peppers should look charred, and the garlic should be soft. 
  • Put the peppers in a food processer with all of your other ingredients and blitz to form a rough paste. Adjust the seasoning to taste. 

You can make this as smooth as you like, I like it slightly rough. Some people remove the skin from the roasted peppers, and make a smoother paste. 

 

Cauliflower and walnut soup

Initially, I wasn’t sure about this soup. It looks odd, but then I caught myself having extra portions. It is even better after being frozen, it seems to enhance the walnut flavour. It is worth spending some time reducing the walnuts to a paste before adding.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bayleaves
  • a pinch of paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 450ml stock
  • 450ml skimmed milk
  • butter
  • 50g walnut pieces

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion finely and cook slowly in butter until soft and beginning to brown.
  • Chop the cauliflower into florets and boil in the stock with 2 bayleaves until tender, at least 10 minutes.
  • Remove the bayleaves, add a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper, and puree the cauliflower and stock until smooth. (I used a soup wand)
  • Grind the walnuts and pound to a fine paste in a pestle and mortar.
  • Add the cooked onions, ground walnuts and skimmed milk to the cauliflower base, and puree again.
  • Strain through a coarse sieve to remove any lumps.
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer for two minutes before serving.