This is the cheapest and fastest party food I know. I made it up on the fly one day when I had a friend around for lunch and was pressed for time. It’s ridiculously good value (it costs maybe $2 for an enormous bowl) and you can lay out bowls and bowls and bowls of it for your guests to snack on when they arrive.
The pressure to “deliver” is high when you have a new food blogger friend coming round for lunch and you’ve had a shocker of a weekend so you haven’t had time to prepare for a fancy meal.
This new friend is Amanda from Chew Town who is such good value that even if I served her a ham sandwich with store bought bread, she would still munch it down with enthusiasm. I’ve always said that even toast tastes special when someone else makes it for you. She thinks like that too.
That’s my type of people. 🙂
I literally had 30 minutes to prepare snacks and lunch before she arrived. With no time to do a grocery run, I decided to make do with the measly amount of popcorn kernels I had left to make something to snack on while we chatted.
I was thrilled when she started tucking into the popcorn with a vengeance, and admitted to me that her poison is popcorn. How much more validation can you get? Especially from someone who is such a talented cook!
Popcorn is not something that people generally think of as savoury party food, but I hope this inspires some of you to give it a try. It is cheaper than chips and dip, something different and so moorish that your friends will be shovelling it down by the handful! It is such great party food. It will be making a regular appearance at my gatherings from now on!
The problem I have with popcorn with seasonings sprinkled on it is getting the flavour to stick to the popcorn. To this day, I have never figured out an easier way to do this than the way I have done it for this recipe – using oil spray to lightly coat the popcorn before sprinkling the flavour on.
If anyone knows a better way (without pouring buckets of butter on it!), I would love to hear it!
PS In case you are wondering what I served as the main, I’ll be sharing it soon….
- ¼ cup vegetable oil (not required if air popping with a popcorn maker)
- ½ cup popping corn
- Olive oil spray
- 1/2 to 2/3 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese (finely grated) (Note 1)
- 3/4 tsp fine salt (Not flakes because it won't stick. Table salt is fine)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or chilli) (adjust to your taste)
- 1/2 tsp paprika (optional - this is for a bit of extra colour)
Pop the popcorn in a popcorn maker or on the stove (see steps 2 and 3).
Make popcorn on the stove: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add a few pieces of popcorn - if the corn slowly spins in the oil then the oil is hot enough.
Add remaining popcorn and cover with a lid. Once the popcorn starts popping, shake the pot gently every now and then.
Remove from heat when the popping stops (when you can count to 3 between pops) and transfer to a large bowl.
Combine the salt, cayenne pepper and paprika in a small bowl and mix to combine ("Spice Mix.
Get a large serving bowl and place 1/3 of the popcorn in it. Spray generously with olive oil then sprinkle over 1/3 of the parmesan and 1/3 of the Spice Mix.Repeat twice more. Do not toss. The flavourings will naturally toss through as people start to dig in.
1. You need to use freshly grated parmesan cheese in this. The store bought fine shreds or granules don't stick to the popcorn as well because they are not as finely grated.
2. The popcorn needs to be seasoned just before serving otherwise the oil and moisture in the parmesan cheese gets absorbed by the popcorn so it isn't as crunchy. The first time I made it, I assembled it 1 hour before serving and it was less crunchy than I preferred. It was still tasty though!
3. Nutrition assuming 6 servings (1 1/2 cups each)