Red Pepper Walnut Spread with Knäckebröd


Whiz up this slightly spicy red bell pepper and walnut spread next time you need a dip. My daughter Ariel introduced it to us as an alternative to hummus to serve with her simple homemade crackers.  (called Knäckebröd). Since she now lives in Ghana and has traveled Africa, she likes to make it with berbere spice, an Ethiopian hot pepper blend of 14 spices and aromatics that I’m starting to see more of here. With so many spices in one, berbere is a handy seasoning for roasted vegetables or chicken breasts, and you can make your own with this recipe from the AllRecipes website.  You might even have most of the ingredients on hand. (I have all except the fenugreek!)

I like this spread because it’s packed with walnuts for a little extra protein and good omega 3 fats.  And its a flavorful sandwich spread with grilled veggies, roast chicken, or cheese.  I’d love to hear how you like to serve it!

Red Bell Pepper Spread

The peppers should get grilled/blackened in the skillet, and will steam and soften with the lid on. Berbere is a spice from Ethopia that Ariel introduced to me. It's is a beguiling blend of chilies and about a dozen spices. I provide a link below to a recipe, or look for it at a spice shop.
Course Appetizer
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers seeds removed, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 cup walnuts toasted
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • berbere spice, cayenne, or red pepper flakes an Ethopian spice blend available at spice shops or blend your own


  • Using a 9-10-inch skillet with lid, add oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Place peppers skin side down; cover and cook on medium-high heat, without turning peppers until skins are charred and flesh is very soft, about 20 minutes.  You should hear sizzling as moisture condenses on the lid and drips into the pan.
  • When peppers are very soft with charred skins, add garlic and cook a few minutes to lightly toast the garlic. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly. 
  • Place peppers (with skin) and garlic, walnuts and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Whirl until smooth and mixture becomes a creamy-red color and is a spreadable consistency. Add a little olive oil to thin if needed. Season with salt, pepper, and berbere or red pepper flakes.  Adjust lemon juice for a little tangy-ness. Keeps refrigerated up to a week.
Charred peppers and garlic.

Red Pepper Spread photo by colleague Beth Cormin Lee

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