I’m a huge fan of dips, and the ones I like best are interesting, yet still healthy- dips you can dig into without guilt to take the edge off your appetite. This roasted red pepper and walnut dip (aka Muhammara) is a new favorite of mine: I made it for the first time last week, and I’m going to be serving it as an appetizer on New Year’s Eve, as well.

Muhammara hails from the Middle East…Syria to be exact. It’s got an intriguing name, and it’s flavor is intriguing, as well.

To make it, you start by roasting three red bell peppers – I do this over the gas burners of my stove- or, feel free to use an 8 ounce jar of roasted peppers.

Once you’ve rinsed, peeled, cored, and seeded the peppers, all you have to do is blend them up with a few more ingredients: toasted walnuts, fresh garlic, and pomegranate molasses among them. Muhammara usually includes bread crumbs, as well, but in the interest of keeping this dip gluten-free, I left them out. If you want to use about 2/3 cup (regular or homemade gluten-free) breadcrumbs, go right ahead: just be aware that the color of the dip will not be as vibrant if you do, and you’ll probably have to add more oil or water (about 1/4 cup) to thin out your Muhammara while blending.

If you don’t have pomegranate molasses, you can substitute maple syrup or honey, but I’d add a bit more lemon juice to compensate for the subtle tartness that the pomegranate molasses provides. Muhammara is often made and garnished with fresh mint leaves, but I’ve used cilantro here: use whichever you like, or leave them out.

Ingredients:

*3 roasted red bell peppers
*1/2 cup walnuts, toasted in a 300 degree F. oven for 10-12 minutes
*1/4 small red onion, or more to taste
*3 cloves of garlic, peeled
*1 teaspoon ground cumin
*1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or use 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes); note that I've seen recipes that call for a whole jalapeño pepper instead...try this if you want the dip to be spicy
*1 tablespoon toasted walnut oil (or olive oil)
*2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
*1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
*1/2 teaspoon sea salt
*handful of fresh cilantro, plus a few more coarsely chopped leaves for garnish

Directions:

1. Combine everything but the cilantro leaves you'll use as a garnish in a blender or food processor. Blend/process until the dip is smooth but still has some texture.

2. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the coarsely chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with vegetable crudités and/or crackers, pita bread, or baguette slices.

You can spread this dip onto baguette or warm pita slices. Or, for a low cal/carb, gluten-free option, spoon it onto California endive leaves*, or use vegetables, such as raw carrots and/or celery, as “dippers”. Another great option is to serve it with your favorite gluten-free crackers, which brings me to the giveaway!

Marys Gone Crackers makes gluten-free, vegan snacks from unrefined ingredients, and they sent me a big box of their goodies a few weeks ago. I’ve had their crackers before and love them, but was excited to try the cookies and Sticks and Twigs (crunchy pretzel-like snacks). I haven’t made my way through everything yet, but I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve sampled so far. I think my favorite of the crackers is the Black Pepper flavor (pictured above), and the sea salt Stick and Twigs and the chocolate chip cookies (which remind me of Chips Ahoy) are really tasty, too.

Mary’s Gone Crackers would like to send one of my readers a box comparable to the one they sent me. I received 5 kinds of crackers, 4 kinds of cookies, and 3 kinds of Sticks and Twigs. One of you will receive a similar box…here’s how to enter the giveaway:

1. Leave a comment below (one entry).

2. For a second entry, follow me and Mary’s Gone Crackers on twitter and leave me a comment letting me know you did (or already do).

3. For a third entry, become a fan of Healthy Green kitchen and Mary’s Gone Crackers on facebook, then leave me a comment letting me know that you did (again, if you are already a “liker”, just leave a comment telling me so).

This giveaway is only open to US residents and I must have your email in order to notify you if you win. The giveaway closes next Tuesday (1/3/11) at midnight. I’ll select the winner using random.org… good luck!

More Dip/Appetizer Ideas:
Healthier Hot Artichoke and Garlic Dip
Guacamole
Mezze

*I am being compensated for my efforts to promote California endive; all opinions are 100% mine.