You know what’s really fun? Listening to your husband try to say fun new words like muhammara and za’atar. To be fair, it wasn’t until a few days ago that I even read the word muhammara let alone ate it or said it out loud and za’atar is a little funky with that apostrophe.
It’s mu (like in mud) ha (like in hum) mar (like in mark) a (like in uhhh) and za (like the end of pizza) a (this is silent… don’t say it) tar (like the black sticky stuff).
I’m not a linguist folks. I just like words. And food. Always food.
If you haven’t heard of muhammara, don’t worry because you’re in good company. Muhammara is a dip that originated in Aleppo, Syria but is found in many Turkish and Lebanese cuisines. It’s actually used in a LOT of their dishes and is a quite common condiment on many tables in that region.
I blame hummus for the lack of knowledge of all the delicious international dips out there. We’re OBSESSED with hummus and sometimes we don’t want to step out of our delicious hummus box. Don’t get me wrong, I like hummus just as much as the next food blogger, but let’s broaden our horizons friends!
What caught my eye with muhammara was the use of roasted red peppers (#roastallthethings) and pomegranate molasses. I’ve never seen or heard of pomegranate molasses, so I was intrigued. Unfortunately, when I decided to try my hand at this dip I didn’t have any pomegranates but I did have cranberries, so I made a few adjustments. I also didn’t use bread crumbs, so this isn’t a traditional muhammara. Don’t hurt me!
Also, please go to your nearest spice store and buy all the za’atar. I got mine from The Spice House in Chicago and I can’t stop putting it on everything I eat. This Middle Eastern spice mix is just so different than most of the stuff I normally eat and I love it. It has things like sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, and hyssop. Hyssop folks! Have you ever eaten hyssop?
Ok, enough raving about muhammara and za’atar, let’s actually eat it!
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 2 red bell peppers
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp cranberry syrup (recipe below OR use pomegranate molasses)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
** For the cranberry syrup: Combine 1/2 cup cranberries (I used frozen), 1/2 cup water, and 3 tbsp coconut sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until liquid has reduced by half. Blend until smooth and let cool. Store extra in the fridge and use on pancakes, oatmeal, or in smoothies! **
- Roast the bell peppers. I did this by placing in the broiler and rotating the peppers every few minutes until blackened on all sides. Remove from broiler and place peppers under a glass bowl for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl and gently remove the skin on each pepper.
- While peppers are roasting and cooling, toast the walnuts in a dry saute pan. Place them in a food processor.
- Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil. Pulse a few times until everything is a little crumbly. Then, turn the food processor on and drizzle the olive oil in until nice and creamy.
- Taste and adjust the salt/lemon/cranberry syrup as needed. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Za’atar Pita Chips
- 2-3 pita pockets, cut into wedges
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2-3 tsp za’atar
- sea salt
- Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Place coconut oil in a small dish and add the za’atar to the oil. Stir to combine and let it sit for a minute.
- Arrange the pita chips in an even layer on the sheet. Brush both sides of each chip with a little of the coconut oil mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Let the chips cool before eating!