Getting a bit of a head start on our Banned Countries VeganFest, I made muhammara today! It is a spread/salad made of roasted red bell peppers and walnuts. It has a sweet and rich taste, and in the past, when I bought it, I often used it as pasta sauce. You can use it as a dip for vegetables or as sandwich filling.

Muhammara originates from Syria, but made its way to Turkey, where people are very fond of it. I like the idea of starting the Banned Countries VeganFest with an immigrant dish to honor its country of origin!

My version here has no added oils (plenty of healthy fats come from the walnuts) and, in lieu of breadcrumbs, I add a small amount of cooked chickpeas to make it stick. Any difference in taste from the original recipe is unnoticeable, and the chickpeas give it a small protein boost.

3 large red bell peppers
2 cups raw walnuts
juice from 1 lemon
1/4 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chili flakes

Heat up a grilling skillet or a wok with no oil in it and place the three bell peppers in it. With a turning fork or wooden spoon, turn the bell peppers around in the pan to roast all the sides. They are ready when they have a lot of black marks on them all over from being roasted – this should take around 10 minutes.

Then, carefully pick up the roasted peppers and drop them all into a plastic bag. Tie the bag and let it rest for about fifteen minutes.

After the peppers seem to have cooled down a bit and “sweated” a lot of steam, open the bag. At this point, removing their center and seeds and peeling them should be very easy.

Place the peeled peppers in your food processor with the walnuts, chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin seeds, and chili flakes. Pulse until mixed and still a tad chunky.

Serve with fresh vegetables or in a sandwich.

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