The weather was beautiful here in Chicago this past weekend! And though it may not be time for a dip in Lake Michigan yet, it is the perfect time for a delicious dip recipe. Because what is better than a good dip? Not much in our opinion. And we even made a gluten free, homemade cracker for the ultimate dipping experience. But first let's learn about a new ingredient that you'll be needing and wanting in your pantry, pomegranate molasses.
Pomegranate molasses is a version of molasses made from pomegranate juice rather than sugarcane or sugar beets. Molasses from sugarcane or sugar beets is more common in North America because it is created as a by-product from the sugar refining process. In the Middle East where pomegranate is a native fruit, pomegranate molasses is traditional and used frequently in cooking. It is used to add a depth of flavor to sweet or savory dishes and has a unique tartness different than standard molasses that yields itself to a variety of different uses. Pomegranate molasses can be used in many ways including in dips, dressing and marinades, stirred into drinks like iced tea or sparkling water, or drizzled over dips, plated dishes or even dessert for a touch of flavor. In terms of nutritional profile, pomegranate molasses is pretty much a sugary sweetener but does contain antioxidants and B vitamins. But one of the largest benefits in our opinion is the variety this product adds to your pantry, because most foods can fit in a balanced diet if that balance truly exists. So swap out that sugarcane based sweetener next time for pomegranate molasses and you won't be sorry! Oh and look for this product in ethic sections or ethnic grocers and you'll be ready to create a delectable dip featuring this ingredient.
Savory Gluten Free Crackers
PREP TIME: 15 mins
TOTAL TIME: 1 hour
Servings: ~2 dozen crackers
1 cup raw almonds (we used sprouted)
1 cup raw walnuts
1/3 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup room temperature water
1 Tbsp za'atar seasoning (Middle Eastern spice blend)
1 tsp garlic powder
Coarse sea salt to sprinkle over the top
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor or blender, pulse almonds and walnuts into a coarse flour. In a large bowl, combine the ground nuts, ground flax, za'atar, garlic powder, and water. Mix with a spoon until batter comes together. Place a sheet of parchment paper down on a large baking sheet. Drop dough onto the parchment paper and place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Using a rolling pin, evenly spread dough out into a large rectangle. Note it is important to make the cracker thickness as even as possible for proper cooking. We spread our crackers out to ~1/3" thick (the thinner the cracker the less time it will take to cook). Using a sharp knife, score dough into 2" by 2" squares and poke the middle of each cracker with fork prongs 2-3 times (see picture above). Sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt. Place in a pre-heated oven and cook for 35-45 minutes. Check and rotate the baking sheet half way through cooking. Remember the thinner the cracker, the less cooking time required. Once crispy, remove from the oven, carefully separate crackers, and allow to cool. Serve with favorite dip or store in an air tight container for up to 7 days.
Muhammara (Red Pepper Dip)
PREP TIME: 30 mins
TOTAL TIME : 35 mins
Servings: ~2 cups
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 large or 2 small red bell peppers*, roasted
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Roast red pepper for ~30 minutes making sure to turn frequently until the outer skin is wrinkled and charred. Remove pepper from the oven and place in a brown paper bag. Allow the pepper to sit for ~5-10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Carefully remove the skin and seeds from the pepper. By allowing the pepper to sit in a covered bag to cool, the skin should be rather easy to remove. In a shallow pan on medium heat, lightly toast walnuts for 3-5 minutes or until golden and fragrant. In a blender or food processor add roasted red pepper, toasted walnuts, bread crumbs, olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and cumin. Blend on high until creamy. Serve immediately or place in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. We served our muhammara with a combo of nut crackers and raw veggies. It is also delicious as a spread for veggie and cheese sandwiches or wraps.
*If you prefer to buy store bought roasted red peppers make sure there is no added spices or marinades on the peppers as this will change the flavor of the dip
These crackers are amazing warm from the oven and have a rich, nutty flavor with a great zing from the za'atar. Not only gluten free but 100% homemade and sure to impress. And this dip, wow! So. Much. Flavor. The flavor profile is just too complex to begin to explain so you might as well whip this up soon and try it for yourself. And keep that pomegranate molasses handy, we guarantee you'll be using it again and again.
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.