Muhammara Popcorn Crunch

By • June 13, 2013 • 9 Comments

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Author Notes: When I think back on the best road trip snack I've ever had, I remember driving through wine country with good friends. We stopped for provisions, settling on a tub of muhamarra and a loaf of good, fresh baked bread. Muhamarra is a delicious dip with various permutations in cuisines of the Middle East. As we had it that day, (and as I've made it ever since), it's a mixture of walnuts, red pepper, pomegranate molasses, lemon, and cumin. It's delicious, but eating it as we cruised up Highway 29 through Napa Valley admittedly took some negotiation from me, the driver. Every time I wanted a bite, I had to talk one of the passengers into ripping a hunk of bread off the loaf and spreading it with muhamarra for me.

For this new recipe, I wanted to recapture the flavors of muhammara and that perfect summer drive, but in the form of a road trip snack that could be easily enjoyed by the driver, too. So I tossed popcorn and toasted walnuts in pomegranate syrup and crushed red pepper, lemon zest, cumin, salt-- all the flavors of muhamarra, but in a new permutation. This crunchy popcorn and nut combination is sweet and sour from the pomegranate and lemon, spicy from the red pepper and cumin, and of course has the salty kick that popcorn demands. I snacked on it while I was making it, I snacked on it-- straight out of the oven-- while it was crisping up at 350 degrees, I snacked on it while I was trying to take pictures of it, and I am snacking on it now. When I'm done writing this, I'm going to take it for a drive and snack on it some more.
indieculinary

Makes about 10 cups

  • 2/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • Enough of your preferred cooking oil to just cover the bottom of a stockpot
  • 2 cups walnut pieces
  • 3 ounces pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Zest of two large, organic lemons
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To a lidded stockpot, add just enough oil to cover the bottom.
  3. Add 2/3 cup popcorn kernels. Cover with the lid and turn the burner on to medium.
  4. Once the oil heats, you'll hear the popcorn begin to pop. After it reaches a crescendo and the popping frequency slows, give the pot a few good shakes. Listen as some more kernels pop. As they slow to only an occasional pop, remove the pot from the heat.
  5. You'll now have about 10 cups of popcorn-- spread it out over a flat surface. (Such as a couple of cookie sheets.)
  6. Briefly toast your walnut pieces on the stove top until fragrant. Toss in the pan frequently as you toast them so they won't burn.
  7. Incorporate your toasted walnuts with the popcorn.
  8. Using a squeeze bottle or similar device, lightly drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the popcorn and walnut mixture.
  9. Sprinkle the cumin, crushed red pepper, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of the salt over the popcorn and walnut mixture.
  10. Toss everything well, transfer to a 9 x 13 pan, and put in the oven for 10 minutes to crisp up. (This step will harden the pomegranate molasses and make the popcorn crunchy rather than soggy.) Check frequently; toss at the 5 minute mark and return to the oven for the final 5 minutes.
  11. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with the reserved half teaspoon of salt. Snack now, or let it cool and then package it up for a road trip.
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10 days ago Cait

This popcorn was a big hit at a wine and cheese event I brought it to. I made it with cashews instead of walnuts because they were much cheaper, and I skipped the lemon zest since I could only find some rather gnarly limes here in Haiti. Funny that pomegranate molasses is available at several grocery stores, but it was hard to find actual yellow lemons...

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over 1 year ago susan g

Another thought, this is worth making for the nuts alone! I didn't have enough walnuts, mixed them with pecans, and the pecans are my favorite.

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over 1 year ago susan g

The story you tell of the craving this popcorn brings on is totally true! It's simple to make, my pantry has all the ingredients, and it came out of the oven just in time for that late evening snack. I love it, my husband loves it, and what was left last night was 'amuse bouche' before breakfast this morning. I can see our popcorn jar emptying soon, and we haven't even left home yet. (My CP comment -- really, this is one of the best tastes ever!)

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Thank you so much!

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over 1 year ago EmilyC

This sounds really yummy (and addictive)!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

Thanks! I thought we might have some left over for a road trip tomorrow, but-- we don't. :)

Gator_cake

over 1 year ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Send some my way! I'm about to take a road trip to San Francisco and this needs to be in the car.

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

That sounds like a fun road trip!

My-haircut

over 1 year ago indieculinary

P.S. Deborah and Ian were on the trip that inspired this recipe. :)