When I first received a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook I had never heard of him.  I looked through the cookbook and everything looked delicious but many of the ingredients he calls for in his cooking were spices I was very unfamiliar with as most of them are classic middle eastern.  As a result, without someone to talk me through it, I placed the book on the shelf and never used it.  Then……..I discovered a Yotam Ottolenghi Masterclass.  His passion and beautiful instruction was amazing, and I learned so much.  Chef Ottolenghi and his recipes are now my favorite items to cook.  And, this Muhammara Mezze Spread, to die for.  Enjoy!!!

Serves:

10 – 12

Total Time:

75 minutes

To Make

Ingredients:

  • 5 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and quartered
  • 1 white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 plum or Roma tomatoes, halved length- wise, stems removed
  • 1 red chili, stem removed
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided 
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, divided
  • 3.5 oz (just under 1/2 c.) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 3.5 oz (just under 1/2 c.) pomegranate seeds, plus 1 tbsp for serving
  • 1 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped, for serving
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

Add the peppers, onion, tomatoes, and chili to a large parchment-lined baking tray. Toss with 3 tablespoons of oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt, and plenty of black pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, add the tomato paste and 1 tablespoon of the oil to a small frying pan set over medium heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste is a deep red and is caramelized. Set aside to cool.

Add the cumin and coriander seeds to a small pan and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until aromatic and you can hear a light popping noise, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the spices from the heat and grind into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle.

Remove the peppers and onions from the oven, add the garlic cloves, and mix lightly. Put the tray back in the oven and roast for another 20 minutes or until vegetables are softened and lightly charred. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel and discard the tomato and pepper skins (don’t worry if you can’t remove it all). 

Add the peeled roasted vegetables, the tomato paste mixture, the ground spices, 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of pepper to a food processor and pulse into a coarse paste, leaving the mixture slightly chunky. 

Add the walnuts and pulse just enough to roughly blitz (you want the mixture to still have some texture). Stir in the pomegranate seeds.

To serve, transfer the Muhammara to a serving plate or bowl and create a slight well in the center. Garnish with the extra pomegranate seeds and parsley, then drizzle the remaining tablespoon each of pomegranate molasses and olive oil over the top.

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