Introduction: PopKale - How to Make Seasoned Popcorn With Truffle Oil Infused Kale Chip Crumbles

When popcorn becomes a delicious and nutritious grown-up version of itself it's time to share!

If you're like me you might find that snacking on traditional popcorn at home can get boring.  Especially if it has become your "go-to" snack because it is a quick ‘n easy, low-calorie food.  Well in just a few more simple steps you can give that semi-healthy (semi-boring) snack a boost in both flavor and nutrition. This boost comes from the addition of crispy baked kale chips and the use of healthier oils (instead of butter).  

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse, high in vitamins A, K, and E, essential for good immune function, eyesight, and heart health.

Olive oil is also nutrient rich with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. High in antioxidants, it has been shown to lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels, while also reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.      

The result is "PopKale," a uniquely seasoned popcorn treat with kale crumbles and a tasty truffle accent.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

For the Kale you will need:

1 bunch kale (preferably organic)

1 tbsp. truffle oil (black or white)

Light salt & pepper (or to taste)

Baking sheet

For the Popcorn:

½  cup popping corn

3 tbsp. olive oil (or a canola/coconut oil blend, my personal favorite)

Kettle & lid

For the Seasoning:

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. garlic powder

Light salt & pepper (or to taste)

Olive oil

Medium/large bowl (with fitted lid or plastic wrap)

Step 2: Wash, Dry, De-stem Kale

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash kale and remove the thick stems.  You can tear them by hand or cut off with knife/kitchen scissors. I have found it easier to do my kale prep by hand (which also makes for even fewer dishes to wash!) but any way you prefer will work just fine.

Dry in a salad spinner. Pat with paper towels to remove any excess water.

Step 3: Tear Into Pieces and Add Oil/salt/pepper

Tear (or cut) the kale into roughly 2-inch pieces and spread on baking sheet. They are going to shrink to about half the size so you don't need to leave much space in between the pieces.

Now here’s the secret to this version of kale chips...the truffle twist.  Drizzle the truffle oil onto the kale and massage it in, working it into all the leafy nooks and crannies.  This will allow for more uniformly crispy edges during baking.

Salt and pepper the kale and toss with hands or spoon (substituting truffle salt for sea salt will achieve a similar truffle taste if you don't have truffle oil).

Step 4: Bake and Crumble

Arrange kale pieces on baking sheet in single layer.  Remember they will shrink considerably when baked.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until edges get brown and crispy.  You will want to keep checking them from the 15 minute point as you don't want them to burn (nor does your household, as the kale chips have a funky smell once they burn).

When done remove kale chips from oven and place in large bowl.  Crumble with hands or a utensil.  Put aside.

Step 5: Pop Your Corn

Add the olive oil (or canola/coconut oil blend) to the bottom of the kettle and drop in a few popcorn kernels.  Set heat to medium-high and replace lid.  When the kernels begin to pop add the rest of the kernels and replace lid.  Make sure you continuously (or very frequently) shake the pot as it cooks (to prevent burning). When the time between pops is more than 2 seconds it's almost done.  (You will learn to use your ear to hear when the popcorn is ready as there will be no popping in rapid succession.)  Remove from heat and continue to shake pot until popping ceases. 

Grab a medium/large bowl (preferably one with a fitted lid but you can also use plastic wrap) and lightly coat the bowl with olive oil. Now add the popped corn. Cover with lid (or plastic wrap) and shake the bowl enough to evenly coat the popcorn. Remove lid and add the garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.  Due to the additive flavorings of the truffle oil/salt/pepper kale crumbles you'll be adding to the popcorn you do not want to over-season your popcorn initially.  You can always add more later!  Mix gently.

[*Note: Although garlic powder works perfectly well for a quick last-minute popcorn seasoning, if/when you have time to prepare or want to plan a trial for your next batch of PopKale, I would recommend peeling a few (3-5, depending on size of jar) garlic cloves (make sure to get all the moisture out of the cloves first) and placing them into a mason jar (or other glass jar) filled with olive oil.  Submerge the cloves in the oil and secure the lid tightly. Let them sit for a day, or in the refrigerator for a week…and voila! The garlic is preserved and you will also have at your disposal a homemade jar of fresh garlic-infused olive oil you can put into a spray bottle for spraying (or drizzling) on PopKale.  You can also use it for other cooking/sautéing purposes.]

Step 6: Add Kale Crumbles Popcorn

Next, gently stir kale crumbles into the seasoned popcorn. The crumbles should stick to the popped corn and give it a slightly green hue. That’s how you know it’s ready!

Makes a delicious, healthy snack with a truly unique flavor.  Enjoy!