Since first making my Yummy Chicken with popcorn, I grew quite fond of using popcorn as a ‘garnish’ on savoury dishes or as an addition to salads. In fact, Lance told me off for writing that the popcorn on the Yummy Chicken was optional – he thought it made the meal special. Something about the presentation as well as the texture addition is really fun in an otherwise everyday meal. I hadn’t done it for a while, when Alejandra posted her Ras El Hanout spiced popcorn. My mind was blown. What a brilliant idea. I already love the popcorn/chocolate combination, this just takes it to a whole new level of awesomeness! Instead of having it as just a snack, I thought I’d like it as a side dish with my dinner. Since I was already planning on having warm hummus with dinner, I thought instead of Ras El Hanout, I’d try more Middle Eastern style spices and went with a Za-atar spice blend that I bought from The Grocer. I really like this blend because I’ve recently discovered the wonders of sumac as a spice and this mix has sumac in it. I then added a little cayenne and extra pepper for a kick – totally optional but I like a bit of heat.
I have become a huge fan of warm hummus since first being served it about 12 months ago. That in itself was a revelation. My favourite dip is also a wonderful mash! Why hadn’t I thought of that? And using tinned chick peas makes it so easy. I like adding cashews instead of tahini because it adds a nice sweet, creaminess which really compliments the warm silky mash. I find tahini can be a bit bitter and prefer it in cold hummus. You do need to soak the cashews overnight to make sure they blend properly.
To balance the heat and vaguely sour taste of the middle eastern spices I wanted a hearty meat and a touch of sweetness. So I served it with lamb rump steak and a fig salad to create that balance. Sadly, the last figs of the season for me, but put to perfect use. The combination of hummus and spiced buttered chocolatey popcorn has been my favourite meal of a long, long time. And I loved standing in the kitchen, eating the leftover popcorn after dinner. This and other spiced popcorn is going to happen. Often.
I try to keep my posts in the order of the dishes I cooked, so when I post them, they are as close to being seasonally pertinent as possible. But whilst I have about 5 posts stockpiled that were cooked and eaten before this dish, I was so blown away by it's deliciousness that I am going to break my rule and let this jump the queue. Make this dish. Now.
Warm Hummus Mash(serves 3)
1 tbsp olive oil2 large cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tin chick peas, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup cashews, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
Juice from one (small) lemon
1/4 – ½ cup water
In a small saucepan heat olive oil to a low heat and gently cook the garlic with ¼ tsp salt for 5-10 minutes or so until soft, translucent and very aromatic. Do not allow it to colour. Add the cashews and chick peas, stir well then cover and allow to warm through for around 10-15 minutes. The heat should be very low, so it shouldn’t burn, but stir here and there to make sure.
When warm, squeeze the lemon juice over the top and pour everything into a food processor or use a good stick blender if you have it to process to a smooth paste, slowly add some water with the motor running to help the hummus get a creamy, mash like consistency. You could also use milk or cream instead of milk to make it richer, but I think water is fine. Check for seasoning, then pop back in the pot and reheat for a few minutes while you make the popcorn
Za’atar Spiced Popcorn
barely adapted from Always Order Dessert(makes approx. 3 cups popcorn)
¼ cup popcorn kernels
25g butter (approx.)
1 ½ tsp za’atar spice blend
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
8-10 grinds black pepper
¼ cup dark chocolate chips
Put the popcorn into a brown paper bag, fold the top down a few times to “seal” and put in the microwave for 2-3 minutes on high to pop the kernels. Keep an ear out for the popping to stop, and a nose out to detect it burning.
Put the popped corn into a really large bowl. Melt the butter, pour over the popcorn, then stir to coat. Mix the za’atar spice, sea salt, cayenne and black peppers together, then tip into the bowl and stir really well to coat all the buttered popcorn.
Melt the chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave
Serve the mash, tip a generous serving of the popcorn over the top, then drizzle the chocolate over the top of that.