Are you familiar with Muhammara, a flavorful Middle Eastern red pepper dip? This concoction is similar but not quite the same. The addition of dates gives it a sweeter note, and the use of pomegranate juice is also a departure from the classic.  I made it for a dinner party we hosted not too long ago, and served it with Ka’kat bread. Perfect partner for the dip.  The recipe comes from Martha Stewart, and contrary to my expectations, there were problems. In fact, it was almost a disaster, but my beloved husband saved the show and thanks to his advice, the dip did not metamorphose into soup. And guess what? This is Paleo-friendly, so if you are into it, feel free to dig in!

Red Pepper Walnut Dip

(from Martha Stewart)

4 pitted dates
3 chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (use less: see my comments)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Pomegranate seeds (optional)

Soak dates in hot water until softened, about 10 minutes; drain. Pulse dates, red peppers, pomegranate juice, walnuts, and red-pepper flakes in food processor until smooth. With machine running, slowly add olive oil until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Dip can be stored in refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if so desired.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Don’t let my almost disaster stop you from making this dip, it was delicious!  However, I even left feedback on Martha Stewart’s website stating that there are problems with the recipe as published. No way 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice will work. I actually roasted more bell peppers than the recipe called for, and it was still pretty much a soup once I was done processing it.

In complete despair, I told Phil that we would have to settle for store-bought hummus for our dinner party because the dip was ruined, but he did not even blink: put it in a sieve to drain, it will be alright.  He is simply the most optimistic human being ever, nothing brings him down.  Take golf, for instance. He faces each shot, no matter how tough, with full composure. Moi? I start shaking uncontrollably when my golf ball goes into a bunker (the golf balls I play with have a mind of their own, did you know that?).  In part because I know how many strokes it will take me to get said ball out of there. But, let’s get back to cooking, a nicer subject.

Following the advice of the resident scratch golfer, I placed the dip inside a small colander lined with a coffee filter, and within 30 minutes it had reached a perfect dip consistency.  Tragedy averted! I struck gold in March 07th, 2000.


ONE YEAR AGO: Lemon-Pistachio Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Roast Beef French Dip Sandwich with Green Pea Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Asparagus Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Chocolate and Chestnut Terrine

FIVE YEARS AGO: Under the spell of lemongrass

SIX YEARS AGO: Greens + Grapefruit + Shrimp = Great Salad!


  1. Yay, Phil. It’s nice to have a cool head in the kitchen as your sous-chef/adviser. I try to research recipes backwards and forwards, compare proportions, and double check before I start … and I still get one or two slipping by and being a disaster. Today’s Korean pancake (pajeon) from a blogger of note was one such. In my case, I needed to add more liquid which isn’t near as traumatic. Glad it all ended well and your dip was a success. It sounds a bit like a roasted red pepper pesto with the ground walnuts and oil.


  2. Yay, Phil! What’s his advice when the veggie lasagna is watery? Try putting THAT in a colander! This dish looks yummy. I’m using pomegranate molasses in all kinds of ways lately, and I wonder if it would be a good substitute here for the juice, and you could leave out the dates. I’m not a date fan anyway, so I might try dried figs or apricots.


    • I will have to run your problem through the resident scratch golfer and see what he comes up with… he is very resourceful.. 😉 But of course, there are limits…

      I had a small discussion on facebook about this recipe, and the exact same assessment, you could use pomegranate molasses and reduce the dates or leave them out. Dried figs could be great too…


  3. Delicious and way to go Phil! I have to say, great use of a coffee filter too. I bet this was perfect with the ka’kat. Makes sense that Phil plays golf well…his optimism, calm demeanor and patience no doubt play a role. Also makes sense why I’ve never been any good at it. 😉


    • Honestly, though – I think pomegranate molasses (which I think goes in the original muhammara) is a better option. It is thicker and has deeper flavor. A little big goes a long way…


        • you want to know what me thinks? 😉 I think that it is a typical example of trying to come up with a slightly different variation on a great classic, to make it a Martha Stewart own. Which is fine no problem with that. But in this case, it simply did not work. The flavor of the pomegranate juice was not that evident – I like the dip in the end, but the original recipe is flawless….


  4. Sometimes it takes thinking out of the box to solve a problem that looks like disaster at first glance. Glad it worked out for you, looks delicious.


  5. Hi Sally, I went to a Martha Stewart video and watched a person making this dip. She used FOUR red bell peppers with the other ingredients. She did say you could also use fresh pomagranate juice. After putting the ingredients through the food processor, it came out a dip consistancy.. I think it does thicken a bit. It may be that they used larger bell peppers. They come in so many sizes, but using 3 bell peppers may be what is wrong with the recipe you used.


    • I actually used 5 – I don’t remember if I used all the ones roasted in the pan, or if I saved half for other use, thinking it would be too much… But I definitely used more than the recipe called for, and still…. soup city!


  6. There is a theory that some of Martha’s recipes are purposely written with errors to make us all feel inferior. I’m not saying it’s true…. I’m just saying I’ve had my share of near disasters with those recipes =) You’re lucky you have such a calm sous chef!! And a scratch golfer!!


    • HA! Interesting theory… 😉 I had a pretty big disaster with one particular Donna Hay recipe… Martha Stewart is hit or miss too. Some of the recipes get pretty nasty reviews. But then again, she has so many, maybe quality control gets compromised…. As to the scratch golfer, I am also one. I often scratch my head trying to figure out how in heavens did I get into so much trouble… 😉


  7. I knew there was I reason I had not used my last week’s bounty of red peppers! Have made similar before but yours is on the ‘to do’ list! Awfully ignorant Q: Do you make your own pomegranate juice from fresh fruit or use a bottled variety. We have an excellent firm making pomegranate, blueberry, acai etc juices here – does not taste at all artificial and is my breakfast juice: I presume OK? End of winter here . . . . still cold but 26 C promised two days down the track . . .love the shorter nights!


    • oh, no… I buy the juice! My gosh, I could not bring myself to juice it… the revolution could affect the spinning of the Earth around its axis! No way!

      I am all for making my life easier whenever possible… 🙂 ANd no, I won’t be milling my own flour either


  8. Interesting, I just read the recipe you linked and it seems to have been changed. It calls for pom seeds instead of juice. I doubt there is a half cup of juice in a pulsed and strained cup of seeds!


  9. Sally v Martha 1-0.
    Hurray for Sally! 😉
    I love the flavor combo in this dip: roasted peppers, walnuts, dates, and pomegranate. Definitely my jam.
    I’ll give it a go but I’ll probably use pomegranate molasses instead of juice, that should solve the soupy situation!


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