Red Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread (Muhammara)

April 18, 2016
Peppers, both hot and sweet, are native to the New World and were carried by Spanish and Portuguese explorers to the Old World in the 1500s, from which they were fairly quickly disseminated globally. Each country now cultivates sweet and hot varieties to suit the local taste. You need red bell peppers to make this Syrian and Turkish spread, which is usually served with pita bread but is also a delicious spicy condiment for cooked meats. Make a little extra to spoon over grilled or broiled fish or even simple roasted potatoes.


  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 1/4 cups (about 6 ounces) walnuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground red pepper flakes or crushed Aleppo or Maras pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or fresh lemon juice, or a mixture
  • Salt
  • Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


Makes about 1 3/4 cups

To roast the bell peppers, hold them directly over the flame on a gas stove top or place on a sheet pan under the broiler and turn them as needed until the skin is blistered and charred on all sides. Transfer to a closed plastic container or a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes. Peel or rub off the skin from each pepper, then stem, halve lengthwise, remove and discard the seeds and thick ribs, and chop coarsely.

In a food processor or blender, combine the roasted pepper, walnuts, bread crumbs, oil, tomato purée, pepper flakes, cumin, allspice, sugar, 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, and a pinch of salt and process until a smooth purée forms. Taste and adjust the seasoning with pomegranate molasses or salt if needed. Spoon the purée into a small bowl, cover, and chill until serving. Garnish with the parsley just before serving.

Photo: Leigh Beisch 

Excerpted from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home by Joyce Goldstein. Published by University of California Press.