National Nut Day: Red Pepper Nut Dip

Muhammara Red Bell Pepper Nut Dip (hehehe… nut dip)

Muhammara Red Bell Pepper Nut Dip (hehehe… nut dip)

Tomorrow is National Nut Day, and it’s a great excuse to enjoy all the nutritional benefits that nuts have to offer, such as protein, fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Even though this day was probably manufactured by a board of nut farmers to remind us to buy nuts, there are many reasons to celebrate this popular fruit. Fun fact – nuts are fruits that are generally characterized in the food world as any hard-walled, edible kernel. Despite being so small, nuts are highly prized for their relatively high oil and nutrient content. Watch out though – some nuts, like macadamia nuts and pecans, have low amounts of protein but are high in calories and fat compared to other varieties. However, with portion control, any nut is a great addition to one’s diet. If you’re eating them for health purposes, keep in mind that nuts are best in their raw unroasted form, as many nutrients are destroyed during the roasting process.

For National Nut Day I made a variation of a Syrian dip called muhammara that is traditionally made with walnuts, mildly hot Aleppo peppers, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. Since it is National Nut Day, I wanted to feature a few more types of nuts by adding cashews and almonds. Other nuts that may be added are pine nuts, pistachios, or pecans. It’s a great substantial snack because of the texture that the nuts provide. I also substituted sweet red bell peppers for hot peppers so the nuts’ flavors could come through more, but feel free to use the Aleppo pepper or ancho chile to keep the dish spicy.

Muhammara Red Bell Pepper Nut Dip (Yield: 2 cups)

Ingredients:

¼ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup cashews
½ cup walnuts
2 shallots
2 large red bell peppers
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt to season
Optional additions: mint leaves, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cayenne pepper, and/or garlic.

Directions:

  1. In a small skillet, heat the pan over medium heat and add the sliced almonds. Stir and toss until lightly golden. Set aside.
  2. Place the walnuts and cashews in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add the chopped walnuts and cashews to the skillet and toast over medium heat for a couple minutes, tossing and stirring, until fragrant. Set aside.
  4. Place the panko bread crumbs in the skillet and toast over low heat until lightly golden. Set aside.
  5. Chop the bell peppers and shallots roughly and place in the food processor until a fine paste. Place the mixture in a sieve or cheesecloth and remove as much liquid as possible.
  6. Finely chop the flat leaf parsley.
  7. Place the drained bell pepper and shallot mixture in a medium bowl with the walnuts and cashew mixture. Add the sliced almonds, toasted bread crumbs, olive oil, and parsley to the red bell pepper and shallot mixture, and gently fold together until combined. Season with salt.
  8. Serve with warm pita or naan.
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