Roasted bell peppers, toasted walnuts and tons of zesty flavors make the best and most versatile dip imaginable! Dunk soft pita bread, pita chips or cut veggies, spread it on sandwiches, or spoon alongside grilled meat or vegetables… possibilities abound!
One of my favorite condiments of all time has to be romesco sauce… or is it muhammara? So hard to decide! One is Spanish, the other Middle Eastern. Both use bell peppers, roasted until blackened and pureed until super smooth. Both use toasted nuts for flavor and texture, and bread to help it thicken. The main difference is the Spanish romesco also includes roasted tomatoes, sherry vinegar and paprika, while muhammara typically uses tomato paste, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses.
Both are scrumptious, and as I cannot decide which I love more… I decided to make a mashup of my favorite parts of both. The result? Swoon worthy.
This recipe is part two of my 3-part series of dips featuring summer veggies. During the prime summer months, bell peppers are at their peak. Of course bell peppers are available year round, as they are imported during the winter months, so you can certainly make this dip any time of year.
But, now is the best time to fully appreciate a bell pepper’s sweetness and distinct crispness. Roasting concentrates those flavors, imparts a subtle smokiness, and softens the flesh for the best texture when pureed.
My favorite way to enjoy this dip, hands down, is with soft, warm pita bread for dipping.
But it’s also an excellent compliment to grilled summer squash, eggplant, or grilled chicken or meat.
A note about roasting the peppers:
I typically stem and seed my peppers for roasting, placing the pieces skin-side up on a foil lined baking sheet and setting it under the broiler. I recently tried another method, roasting them whole in a hot oven for 40ish minutes until charred and totally soft. It takes a lot longer, but I love the results.
Grilling the peppers is another option, which imparts that unmistakable grilled flavor.
Charred Pepper & Walnut Dip
- 2 red bell peppers
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Pita bread pita chips, or cut vegetables for serving
- Preheat your oven to 425 F. Place the bell peppers on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the hot oven. Roast, turning once or twice, for 35-40 minutes until charred and softened. Remove and let cool slightly.
- While the peppers are roasting, place the walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast them in the hot oven for 2-3 minutes. Watch them so that they don’t burn. Remove when they have taken on a little color. (The oven is very hot and if you aren’t careful, they could burn. It is most convenient to toast them in the oven, since it is on already, but if you have a toaster oven and prefer to be on the safe side, use that instead at 325 for 8-10 minutes).
- Place the garlic cloves in a food processor and turn it on to finely chop them. Most of them will stick to the sides, and that’s fine. They will get chopped up more as you add more ingredients. Add the still warm nuts and ½ teaspoon of the salt and process until the nuts are mostly broken down but stop before they become nut butter. Scrape the sides once or twice to more evenly grind the walnuts.
- Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off (they should slide off easily) and remove the stem and seeds, discarding them. Add the peppers, tomato paste, vinegar, breadcrumbs, paprika, and remaining ½ teaspoon of salt to the processor and blend until you have a fairly smooth puree. It will take 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and puree again and with the motor running, pour in the olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
- Let the dip sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to meld the flavors before serving, or refrigerate for up to a day.