Perfectly Crispy Vegan Muhammara Cigars
Sweet, savory, and completely addictive (sorry!), muhammara cigars are one of my favorite snacks. They are packed with delicious roasted vegetables and the sweet tang of pomegranate dip. Muhammara is usually served as a dip in a variety of consistencies and spice levels depending on where in the world you are. This takes the naturally vegan muhammara and brings it to a new level by adding a crunchy layer of filo and finishing it off with a twist of pomegranate syrup to dip in.
It’s a very simple recipe to make, you just need to carve out the time to do it, it’s worth it, trust me! To start, you will need to clean your tomatoes, peppers, and onions and roughly chop, drizzle with high-quality olive oil and salt and let roast until edges go black. This is where the magic happens. This is where the natural flavors come alive and caramelize into the sweet symphony of perfection. It’s totally OK to take all the credit for the amazing smells and flavors being born, but nature really did all the hard work.
Your vegetables should be spread out in a single layer and cooked completely with black edges on plenty of the pieces. You don’t want to completely char your veggies, but you do want some edges for sure. You are going to peel the skins off the peppers and tomatoes after they cool down and you are going to want to lick your fingers because this stuff smells so good when you take it out of the oven. These are the stars of the muhammara, so you want to get this part right, and it’s not hard to do. Once the skins are off, you are going to pulse in a blender until smooth and that’s the beginning of your filling.
While your vegetables are roasting, make sure your filo dough is defrosting. Now is also a good time to make the pomegranate syrup, which is mind-blowing level good. You can’t just use cheap pomegranate juice (I tried, it doesn’t work), you need to do one of two things. Make the juice yourself from fresh pomegranates (2 is enough) or use 100% pure pomegranate. You only need a cup. Keep in mind you need to use real sugar when you reduce the pomegranate juice to make the syrup, well, syrup.
I bet you are wondering “How on earth are these watery vegetables going to get wrapped in filo without turning into a soggy mess?”. I got you. The next step is again, a simple, yet meaningful step. You want to toast up your walnuts in a pan. Toast just enough where they start to turn a slightly deeper shade. Remove from heat, let cool and then pulse a few times. You don’t want a paste, you want more of a crumble. A few blender pulses should accomplish this. Marry this with your roasted veggies paste and let sit for five minutes.
If you don’t have za’atar, you can easily make it yourself with a few ingredients. I would make a bunch because you can really sprinkle it on anything to give it a good kick of flavor.
mix the following in equal parts and lightly toast
red pepper flakes (a pinch for less spicy)
To really develop the flavor of the tomato paste, I am going to ask you to go back to the pan and “fry” it for just a little bit with a bit of olive oil until it gets really fragrant and the edges start to cook and brown a bit. That umami flavor comes from this step, so don’t miss it. Mix it in with your vegetable/walnut paste until totally blended.
The trick about keeping filo dough pliable yet sturdy is to place a damp dishcloth over it as you are working. You will probably need to unroll your dough, as it often comes rolled up. Before you unroll, you want to make sure it’s completely defrosted. Once unrolled, you are going to cut straight down the center, long ways to make two strips of dough. These will become cute little muhammara cigars. stack the strips from two piles into one, and cover with the wet dishcloth.
Now the fun begins!
- Lay two strips, stacked on top of each other, completely lined up. You are using two filo strips instead of one to make the cigar a little more sturdy. The way I like to “roll these cigars” is best understood through the photos below.
- Place a teaspoon of the muhammara at the far end, leaving a bit of space that will help keep the muhammara in place when you start to roll.
- fold over the flap and use our fingers to mold it in place a little, so it’s firm and sturdy.
- Use melted butter and a brush to paint butter down the length of the filo.
- Before you begin rolling, fold in the long edges about 1/8 of an inch, make sure the flaps are still folded before you start rolling.
Once your little cigar is made, paint the top with more butter and sprinkle your za’atar seasoning on top before baking. Repeat until you are out of muhammara.
Bake at 375* F
They usually take about 20 minutes to bake, but keep an eye on them so they don’t get overcooked or pop. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and the pomegranate syrup with some extra za’atar.
I really hope you love these as much as I do! If you do, make a bunch! They freeze well.
If enjoyed this meal let me know what you think by leaving a ★★★★★ star rating and comment below with any questions or feedback. These are two small things that add up to a ton of support, which I really appreciate. Also show off your pics to me on instagram by tagging @theveganholidayblog and #veganholidaypic – I am excited to see your meals!
Deliciously crispy cigars filled with sweet and savory muhammara, perfectly seasoned with za'atar.
- 2 red bell peppers, de-stemmed cut into 1/4 and seeded
- 8 Roma tomatoes, de-stemmed and cut in half
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and pulsed
- Pomegranate Syrup
- 1 cup of 100% pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup of raw sugar
- 1/2 cup melted vegan butter
- 1 package of filo dough sheets
- 1/4 cup za’atar
- Parsley for serving, for serving
- Pomegranate Seeds, for serving
- Olive oil drizzle, for serving
- Remove the filo dough from the freezer and defrost.
- Lay your tomatoes, onions, peppers, and garlic on a lined baking sheet and roast at 350* for 30 minutes checking every 15 minutes for black edges and caramelization.
- While vegetables are roasted, toast your walnuts in a frying pan until slightly browned. Set aside to cool off. Once cool, pulse a few times (not too much) until you get a crumbly texture (see photo).
- Fry your tomato paste on medium/high heat in a little oil in a frying pan. Remove from heat once it starts to brown (avoid burning). Set aside.
- Make your pomegranate syrup by adding the pomegranate juice and sugar to a shallow pan and setting to high until you reach a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir with a whisk occasionally until it reduces 1/3. Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl.
- Once vegetables are done caramelizing and cooled, peel the skins from the tomatoes and peppers and then pulse in a blender until you reach a uniform consistency. Not too chunky, not super smooth.
- Marry the vegetable pulse, 2 tbsp of the pomegranate syrup (keep the rest!), walnut meal, and a pinch of za’atar, fried and cooled tomato paste and mix until well blended.
- Assemble the cigars. For step-by-step instructions with photos see the post.
- Bake at 375* for 20 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with pomegranate dip and za’atar.