Hot and Sweet Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts and Pomegranates (Muhammara)

At first glance these eye-catching chile peppers look like red jalapeno. However, they have a different flavor and are less meaty than Jalapeno. Red Fresnos are great roasted and added to salsas. Try grilling them alongside your steaks or in kabobs.

When roasting these they should char, blister, and become soft. Try substituting these in your favorite chile recipes.

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2-1/2 pounds red bell peppers
1–2 small hot chiles, such as fresno or hot Hungarian
1-1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely ground
1/2 cup crackers, crumbled
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses or more to taste
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. toasted pine nuts or chopped, peeled, and unsalted pistachios
pinch of ground cumin
olive oil for garnish


Muhammara is a popular Middle Eastern dip made from peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. It is delicious served with pita bread or crudités.

1. Roast the red bell peppers and chiles either over coals or a gas burner or under an electric broiler, turning frequently until blackened and blistered all over, about 12 minutes. Place the peppers and chiles in a covered bowl to steam for 10 minutes (this loosens the skin). Rub off the skins and slit the peppers open to remove the stems, membranes and seeds. Spread the bell peppers, smooth side up, on a paper towel and let drain 10 minutes.

2. In a food processor, grind the walnuts, crackers, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, cumin, salt and sugar until smooth. Add the bell peppers and process until they are puréed and creamy. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the chiles to taste. (If the paste is too thick, thin with 1 or 2 Tbsp. of water.) Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to mellow.

3. When ready to serve, transfer the dip to a serving dish. Sprinkle the pine nuts or pistachios and cumin and drizzle with olive oil.

Recipe from Saveur Magazine, July 1994.