Muhammara (Hot Pepper Dip)

3 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup crushed walnuts
3/4 cup breadcrumbs blended with cold water to a purée
2 tablespoons paprika (or 1 teaspoon chili powder for a very hot muhammara) or 1 small can hot pepper purée
a pinch of ground cumin
1 tablespoon pine nuts sautéed in a little oil

Using a deep skillet, sauté the onions gently in the oil until soft and golden. Add the walnuts, the breadcrumb purée, the pepper (chili or purée), the cumin and salt to taste. Continue to sauté gently on a low heat until the ingredients are well blended – about 12 minutes.

Remove from the heat, place in a bowl and garnish with pine nuts.

Muhammara is eaten as a dip with bread. It can also be used as a spicy dip with kebabs, grilled meats and fish. The Lebanese also eat it as a spread on toast.

Serves about 6.

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From “Cooking the Middle Eastern Way” by Christine Osborne

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