Guest Post: Mushroom Muhammara by The Messy Baker

We’re thrilled to be welcoming our first guest of 2015! Charmian of The Messy Baker is back sharing a versatile dish that’s full of flavour. Whip up this tasty Middle Eastern dip for a number of uses. 

I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a savoury dish mushrooms can’t enhance. I put that question to the test with this dip. Muhammara, a classic Middle Eastern dish, features roasted sweet red peppers and walnuts. Pomegranate molasses is the crowning touch that sets it apart. A bit of heat comes from dried pepper flakes, and it’s all ground into a paste that’s creamy yet has a bit of walnutty crunch. Would mushrooms upset the balance of flavour? Would they destroy the texture? Not a chance. If anything, they enhance the dish.
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While I was pleased with the complexity mushrooms added to the taste, I was equally thrilled to see how they stretched the yield — without breaking the budget. Canada. January. Imported vegetables can get spendy. Fortunately, mushrooms are local and available year-round at a steady price.

Reducing ingredient costs is only one way this dish saves money. Although it’s designed to be a dip, it’s as versatile as the mushrooms I added. Serve it with pita chips, chopped up raw vegetables or slathered on flatbread. Leftover muhammara can be used as a spread to add zing to panini, sandwiches and wraps. It also makes a wonderful topping for baked brie, should you happen to have any lurking in the back of the fridge from the holiday festivities.

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Mushroom Muhammara
This is a mushroomy take on a classic Middle Eastern dish. While there seems to be a lot of roasting and toasting, it’s all timed to come together quickly without wasting time or energy. The results are spicy, full of flavour and totally irresistible.

Prep 15 minutes | Cooking: 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 red bell peppers
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper flakes*
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
fresh cilantro or mint for garnish, optional

Method
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the cap and tip from the bell peppers, then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds and ribs. Place the peppers cut side down on one of the lined baking sheets. Roast in the oven until blistered and blackened, about 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on the second lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven along with the peppers. Stir after 10 minutes. Keep cooking until the water they release has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. The mushrooms and peppers will be done about the same time.
3. When the peppers are roasted, place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until they are cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Covering them is essential since the steam will loosen the skin.
4. While the peppers and mushrooms cool, spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and place in the hot oven. Turn off the heat and leave them to toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven to cool.
5. By this time the peppers should be ready. Simply peel the skin off and discard it. Roughly chop the peppers and put them into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the cooled mushrooms, toasted walnuts, breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper flakes, lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pulse until ground.
6. Serve drizzled with more olive oil, if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro or mint.

Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

*While pomegranate molasses are becoming a common item in larger grocery stores, a trip to the Middle Eastern grocery store should get all the ingredients you need. If you can’t find Aleppo pepper flakes, substitute an equal amount of hot scaled peppers or 1 teaspoon of paprika.

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There are so many wonderful flavours coming together in this dip! Adding mushrooms to this classic dish is a great way to add veggies to your meals and keeps costs down. A big thanks to Charmian for sharing another flavourful mushroom-packed recipe!

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One comment

  • Carol Harrison January 13, 2015   Reply →

    Looks tasty! I'm keen to try pomegranate molasses too – thx for the tip on where to find it. I see the recipe only calls for 2 tbsp. Any suggestions for how else to use it up? Many thanks!

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