Sometimes I’m a little crazy. Five people coming to stay for three days in my two-bedroom apartment? Perfect time to start a dozen different projects that have been on my list for a year into the few free hours I can eke out after work! And hey, can’t have my guests go hungry, best make granola, a batch of carrot cupcakes, blackstrap molasses ice cream with pecan praline (um, yum), and…well, at least I had one easy thing on my list.
Everyone needs a go-to dish for when you’re slightly crazed–last minute guests, forgotten party you promised a dish for, or just bordering on hangry (my new favorite word=hungry+angry. Because who hasn’t been there?). For me, this is that dish.
More than a dip, kind of a spread, it’s all delicious however you use it. Plus–and this is key–it takes all of 30 seconds to make and can be made with pretty standard cupboard fare. Dump everything in the food processor, turn it on, scoop it into a pretty bowl (or don’t, I know how demanding the hangry can be), devour. Pita chips, crackers, vegetables, spread on a sandwich instead of hummus…all are perfectly valid and perfectly delicious options.
There is one thing that makes this dip extra special–namely, pomegranate molasses. If you’ve never tried–or heard of– it, it’s a great little secret ingredient in everything from salad dressings to a marinade for grilling meat or vegetables, or even drizzled over strawberries. Tangy and tart, it provides a depth to the dip that you can’t quite put your finger on. (Ok, maybe pomegranate molasses isn’t “standard” cupboard fare, but it should be! And it actually lasts a long time in the fridge, so if you can find some it’s worth a purchase. Otherwise you can easily cook down pomegranate juice with some sugar and lemon juice until it’s nice and syrupy–look, Alton Brown even has a recipe!)
In any case, thank god for easy recipes in between frantic project-doing, apartment-cleaning, cupcake-baking, and general chicken-sans-head-running. Molasses is blitzed together with toasty cumin and spicy cayenne, walnuts, roasted sweet peppers, olive oil, and bread crumbs. Done. If nothing else for my guests, I knew this would go over well.
So I may make myself crazy, but at least I make some damn good dip too.
If you can’t find pomegranate molasses at your grocery store or at a Middle Eastern market, Alton Brown has a really easy version with just pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon. I also like the addition of a few peppadew peppers for their sweetness and slight spiciness, but if you can’t find them (a shame, they’re awesome in or on just about everything) this is still exceptional without them. And bonus party trick–this is accidentally vegan! Ever-so-slightly adapted from Epicurious.
12 ounce jar roasted red bell peppers in olive oil with garlic, drained
4-5 peppadew peppers (optional)
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until they form a coarse paste. If too thin, add a bit more panko; too thick, another tablespoon of oil. Adjust cayenne and salt to taste.
Serve with pita chips and vegetables for dipping, spread on a sandwich with roasted vegetables and goat cheese, stir into hot pasta, or just eat with a spoon!