Muhammara is a wonderfully vibrant and flavorful red pepper and walnut dip from the Middle East. But just in case you need any more persuading, as well as being simply wonderful to scoop up pieces of toasted pita and the odd carrot stick, muhammara also makes a fantastically bright, creamy vegan sauce for a bowl of spaghetti, with some extra chopped walnuts sprinkled on top for added crunch and a generous amount of flat leaf parsley for both color and an extra hit of flavor.–Rachel Phipps
Spaghetti With Muhammara Sauce
For the pasta
- 16 ounces spaghetti
For the muhammara
- 5 1/4 ounces roasted red peppers (from a jar)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon date molasses
- Sea salt
- Juice of 1/4 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons walnut pieces, chopped
- Large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Cook the pasta
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions until the pasta is tender but still has a little bite to it.
Make the muhammara
- While the pasta is cooking, in a food processor or blender, blitz together the drained peppers, walnuts, cumin seeds, date molasses, and a good pinch of sea salt until very smooth.
- Stir in the lemon juice. Taste, and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Finish the pasta
- Drain the pasta and return it to the saucepan. Stir in the muhammara until the pasta is bright and creamy.
- Divide the sauce among 4 warm bowls and sprinkle each with the chopped walnuts and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
It is best to think of this as more of an idea than a recipe. The question at hand is “can muhammara stand in for pesto or tomato sauce as a pasta sauce?” The answer is an unequivocal “yes.”
But the degree of deliciousness here will depend entirely upon the muhammara itself. There is a good recipe from Paula Wolfert on this site. I chose to go with one from “Mediterranean Harvest,” by Martha Rose Shulman, for the simple reason that it was easier to make gluten-free, because it called for breadcrumbs rather than specific wheat crackers, as Wolfert’s does, and it was excellent. No matter the recipe you use, if it is one that you love, you will find that muhammara does indeed make a great sauce for pasta.
This is absolutely delicious. I love muhammara but I wasn’t sure how it would pair with spaghetti. It’s strangely reminiscent of spaghetti Bolognese…somehow. The sweetness from the pomegranate molasses with the roasted red peppers mimics the tomato sauce and the walnuts give it some weight, a certain meatiness. My husband and I along with our toddler happily slurped this right up!
I never would have thought to pair muhammara with spaghetti, but it’s a really crave-worthy final dish that scores some major points for shaking up the usual pasta combos. Whether this is a weeknight meal for you depends on whether you are using store-bought sauce or making it yourself (which does take some time), but having leftovers for sandwiches, wraps, and just general snacking was worth the time investment.
Don’t think for a second about skipping the lemon or the walnut and parsley condiment; the acidity and herbs are integral to rounding out all the flavors and the dish isn’t complete without it. I cut a lemon into wedges and gave everyone their own wedge to season their portion.
If you’re a fan of roasted red peppers, this is a wonderful, simple dish. The ingredients are easy to get your hands on and this can be put together in under 20 minutes. I got the water boiling for the pasta and prepared everything else while it was cooking. The muhammara is a light, yet flavorful, sauce for pasta.
My only problem with the sauce was that I wished there was more of it. I’d definitely increase the amount of sauce for the suggested amount of spaghetti the next time. I used spaghetti, but I think it would be great on a more substantial pasta as well. Served with bread and a green salad, this is a perfect weeknight dinner. It made 4 generous servings.