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Parmesan and Black Pepper Popcorn

Popcorn is the simplest of snacks, but it reaches a new level of appeal when liberally sprinkled with cheese. Here, salty Parmesan meets earthy black pepper and mingles with a decadent combination of olive oil and butter to deliver maximum flavor. Serve as a fun appetizer at a cocktail party.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the popcorn kernels, cover the pan and cook, shaking the pan often, until the popping slows, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and wait for the popping to subside before removing the lid.

Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and the melted butter, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with the cheese, season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Divide among individual bowls, if desired, and serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.

Variation: To make Cheddar and Rosemary Popcorn, pop the popcorn as directed above, substituting canola oil for the olive oil. In a separate saucepan over low heat, whisk together 2 Tbs. unsalted butter and 1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese just until the butter melts (the mixture may not be entirely smooth). Stir in 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary. Drizzle the mixture over the popcorn, toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cheese, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2010).