if you can kindly ignore or accept the fact that this looks like a bowl of cat food and still maintain a desire to read onward, than i humbly thank you and extend to you my most enthusiastic two thumbs up, because this is a thing that deserves to be tasted. considered. savored and cherished. it’s my spin on muhammara, a spread made from roasted red peppers, walnuts, bread crumbs, and pomegranate molasses. for this muhamma-remix i roasted local green and purple-skinned bell peppers, toasted some good ol’ southern pecans, replaced the bread crumbs with gluten-free bits and used a sweet balsamic glaze instead of pomegranate molasses. traditional muhammara made with vibrant red peppers has an advantage in the realm of beauty and appearances, and when i first saw the unthrilling complexion of this southern-flavored version i worried it might taste just as bland but one lick of a finger quelled my fears. this muhammara bursts with brilliant flavor. it’s got brightness, heat, richness, a most satisfying zing, and a beautiful complex darkness; a fancy feast, indeed.
the beautiful complex darkness. it’s an idea i can’t get out of my mind. a hint of bitterness with sweetness enough to just to scantily mask. i’ve been exploring these sensations in my cooking lately, completely inspired by where i live. this place. its people. its beautiful, beautiful, produce. i don’t love this place where i live. but i love living here. there is a strange strain of bitterness here that never settles. it is always. sometimes it’s angry and it’s overwhelming. but other times it’s just a color. i can accept a color; i can understand a color and filter it, see past it, and shape it and employ it. i’m at once alienated and enthralled. i think this is why i keep coming back to these “southern” flavors. it’s not about butter and sugar for me. i’m not southern and can’t describe for you what it really means and what it’s all about and i don’t suppose to know. but i’m here breathing this air and cooking in this kitchen. taking it all in through what grows from the ground.
these are the flavors and the feelings that color my thoughts, my experiences. this is the essence of here as seen through my eyes and expressed by my hands. this is my southern-style muhammara, a simple spread with a complex palette.
- ⅔ cup roasted bell pepper flesh (see notes)
- ⅔ cup pecans, toasted
- ¼ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (or see notes for a substitution idea)
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (notes)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- water as needed
- put ingredients (with the exception of the water) in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides or stir as necessary. depending on how you want to eat the muhummara, you may want to leave it the consistency it is, or thin it out with a little water. serve with pita (or a soaked seed/grain flatbread) or on fat cucumber slices, like we did, with additional olive oil, spices, or even hot sauce, you crazy thang.
i use this balsamic glaze which can be obtained at most grocery stores, i think. another option is to make a balsamic vinegar reduction with a pinch of sugar or dark fruit juice (pomegranate, grape). the goal for this two tablespoons is a sweet, tangy syrupy thing. the specifics are up to you and your pantry.