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Food
Red Pepper And Walnut Dip (Muhammara)

This Syrian appetizer improves and mellows if made 4 or 5 days ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator. -- Virginia Phillips, free-lance food writer.

1 1/2 pounds red bell peppers
1/2 cup coarsely ground shelled walnuts
3 tablespoons quality bread crumbs or sesame cracker crumbs
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
4 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern grocers)
1/4 teaspoon red chili paste, or more to taste
Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil

Roast the peppers over gas flame or under broiler, turning until blackened and blistered all over. Place in a bag for 10 minutes to loose skins. Slit the peppers open and remove the membranes, stems and seeds. Skin and allow to drain.

Meanwhile, combine the walnuts and bread crumbs in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the bell peppers, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and blend until creamy. Add the chili paste to taste, adjust the seasoning, and scrape into a 2-cup storage jar. Chill overnight to allow the flavors to mellow.

When ready to serve, scrape dip into a serving dish. Decorate with ground cumin and a drizzle of olive oil. makes 6 servings.

Monday, November 19, 2001

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