Enough with the sugar already. After Halloween, what I need is some salt.
Popcorn does a neat trick of being frivolous enough to be fun while also being real-food enough that you don’t hate yourself afterward. I used you guys as an excuse to make more popcorn than six of us could eat yesterday (“It’s research! For the people!”) and soothed my salt cravings with handfuls of popcorn tossed with oregano, basil, feta, garlic, red pepper and fresh rosemary from my yard.
After all that and a couple of apples, I recovered enough to eat just one more of the kids’ cast-off Snickers bars.
My sister-in-law Michelle in Ohio put savory popcorn in my head (from a Columbus eatery), and it reminded me of the French fries with feta, garlic and oregano we love at a restaurant here in California.
Herbs, feta and popcorn. Pretty much a slam dunk. I also added a bit of garlic (not pictured), but if you want a restaurant-type impact, you could add more.
Rosemary grows like crazy in California – sometimes you’ll even see a giant hedge of it – but right now mine is a little baby plant. Fresh rosemary is much subtler and less soap-tasting than dried.
After years of using an air popper, I’ve decided that stovetop popcorn is best. When popped in a bit of oil, the popcorn had a nice distribution of flavor. Drizzling butter over air-popped popcorn results in an inconsistent mix of dry and soggy kernels for me, while stovetop popcorn is uniformly crisp.
Despite my general aversion to specialized kitchen gear, I do love the Whirley-Pop. You don’t need one – shaking a covered pot works too – but with the stirring mechanism even the kids can keep the popcorn from getting scorched.
I tried adding the herbs into the oil with the popcorn, like we do with sugar for kettle corn, but they get overly fried. Better to heat the herbs and garlic (crushed red pepper is good too) with a bit olive oil in the microwave until fragrant.
Then mix in to the popcorn with feta and salt.
A half cup of popcorn should make enough for four people. But by the time I slowed from handfuls to picking at kernels, what was left could have fit into a cereal bowl. Sugar excess to salt glut…I think I’m happily back to normal now.
Herbs, feta, garlic and popcorn – a slam dunk salty snack and a great party nosh.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (preferably one with a high smoking point, eg corn, peanut, safflower, canola, avocado)
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Salt to taste (about 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, less if table salt)
- Put herbs and minced garlic in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and microwave until fragrant (around 30 seconds, depending on your microwave). Set aside.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add cooking oil and three kernels of popcorn. Cover pot. When you hear a kernel pop, add remaining popcorn and stir. Cover pot again and cook, shaking pot frequently (hold the lid as you do), until popping slows (1-2 seconds between pops; don’t wait, or you may scorch the whole batch). Turn off heat and pour popcorn into a large bowl. Add herbs and feta and stir well. Salt to taste.
Makes about 16 cups of popped corn, or about four servings.
- You can use air-popped popcorn as well; just heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil with the herbs and drizzle over the popcorn.
- For anyone going out to the movies, one batch of popcorn fits nicely into four Ziploc sandwich bags and will save you from overpriced, chemical-laden movie theater popcorn.
Here’s the link to a printable version.