Beet Muhammara

I whipped up this recipe at my husband’s request. And I am so glad he asked.

Muhammara is typically made with roasted red peppers, which I adore, but this beet version is delicious as well⁠—and a terrific way to eat beets. I like beets well enough, but don’t often tend to think of buying them or prioritizing them in my cooking. That is, until I ask my husband if there’s anything we haven’t eaten in a while that he would like . . . he often says “beets”.

So, if you’re not really a beet lover, this is definitely worth a shot! (I won’t say that you can’t taste them, for that would be a lie, but the plethora of other flavors bring them into a whole new level.) Hear me say, give this a try.

Most muhammara recipes I’ve seen call for pomegranate molasses, which, as a staple in Middle-Eastern fare, offers both sweetness and tang. I did not have this on hand, so I used lemon juice and honey instead. If you have this lovely ingredient, please use it!

I found my Aleppo pepper at World Market; I imagine most speciality spice shops will carry it as well. As for the nuts, I find a blend of walnuts and hazelnuts to do splendidly. If you really prefer one over the other, go for it. Chef’s choice. Overall, this dip really is quite customizable. Simply stick your finger into the dip after processing everything together, taste, and add what’s missing (salt? fat? acid? sweetness? a bit of cayenne?).

Enjoy this magenta dip with all manner of Middle-Eastern fare, from simple to elaborate. Eat with crusty sourdough bread or fresh, soft pita. Enjoy on crackers or veg for a snack. Use in a wrap or sandwich. Use as one part of an elaborate spread. Whatever. Above all, enjoy the color.

Finally, let it be noted that I created a new category on the Make page for this recipe: Dips + Spreads. I fully expect to add many more. (If I had to choose a food group to live on for the rest of my life, I would probably choose this one—so long as I could eat them with bread.)

Recipe

Makes about 3 to 4 cups

Beet Muhammara

INGREDIENTS

3 medium beets, greens and stems detached, roasted

1/2 cup walnuts (raw)

1/2 cup hazelnuts (roasted)

1 tsp. Aleppo pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

juice of 1/2 a lemon, or to taste

1 tsp. honey

cayenne, to taste

*optional: add water to thin out, if needed, to reach desired consistency

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Roast the beets. Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim off the beet greens along with the stems (save to use, if desired). Wash the beets, place them in a baking dish lined with parchment or foil (a piece large enough to come up the sides a bit—it doesn’t have to fit perfectly. This is just for easy cleanup.) Pour about an ounce of hot water in the bottom with the beets, cover with foil or a lid, if the dish has an oven-safe lid, and bake for about 1 hour, until knife-tender. This step may be done ahead of time, and the beets refrigerated until needed.
  2. Make the dip. Once the beets have been roasted, start by blending the nuts in a food processor until a bit beyond “sandy,” but not quite nut butter. They should look oily, as they will have begun to release their oils.
  3. Roughly cut the beets into 1 to 2-inch chunks and add them to the food processor. Process to begin to break down the beets.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients, processing until smooth. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add any water to thin out the consistency, as desired.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
  6. Transfer into a glass container, cover, and store in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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