I grew up on stovetop popcorn. Microwave popcorn was a novelty that we found at our friends’ houses, along with cable television, trampolines and Nintendos. My best friend up the street had all of those things, plus a swimming pool and a backyard rabbit named Rosie. She had it good. Needless to say, our house was never the most popular house on the block, but we definitely offered the best popcorn.
Stovetop popcorn is still my salty-crunchy snack of choice. If you haven’t ever popped popcorn on the stove, I challenge you to try it this holiday season. It’s easy. It’s super tasty. And it’s so cheap that it makes those four-dollar bags of chips look like highway robbery.
Perhaps my favorite quality of stovetop popcorn is that you can make as much as you want to eat right away. No need to worry about polishing off a whole bag of chips. Popcorn is waiting in your pantry whenever the craving strikes.
The other day, on a whim, I grabbed my Microplane grater and gussied up my popcorn with some lemon zest, Parmesan and black pepper. The combination elevated my humble stovetop popcorn to gourmet status. So good.
If you’re looking for more popcorn flavor inspiration, check out my peppermint bark popcorn (perfect for holiday parties and gifts) and a fun chili and dark chocolate option here. What are your favorite popcorn toppings?
- ⅓ to ½ cup popcorn kernels (enough to cover the bottom of the pan in a single layer)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan in a shallow layer)
- Zest of 1 small lemon, preferably organic
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Fine grain sea salt, to taste
- Place a large serving bowl near the stove. Pour the oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid (if you have a medium-sized Dutch oven, it’s perfect for this). Turn the heat up to medium-low, add 2 kernels of corn, and cover.
- Once the kernels pop, remove the pan from heat and pour in the remaining popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and give the pot a little shimmy to distribute the kernels evenly. Let the kernels warm for one minute.
- Cook over medium-low heat, shaking the pot occasionally. Once the kernels start popping like crazy, crack the lid just a smidge so the popcorn stays crisp. Cook until the popping sound slows to about one pop per every few seconds. Remove the pan from heat and dump the popcorn into the bowl.
- Use a Microplane or other small grater to grate some lemon zest and Parmesan over the bowl of popcorn, to taste. Add pepper and salt, to taste. Serve!
- I prefer to use organic, yellow popcorn kernels. Look for them at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and in health food store bulk bins.