On Hollywood’s big night, watching the parade of glammed-up, jewel-bedecked ladies and monkey-suited men while munching nude popcorn will not do.
For munching, cacao nibs add yummy culinary bling to air-popped corn. The lightly sweetened organic nibs from Navitas are particularly nice. I also toss in dried blueberries, toasted almonds, and oat cereal rings as well, creating a munch mix with the perfect film-star blend of glitz and antioxidant-rich power foods.
If your Oscar-night ritual includes dinner, serve spinach salad topped with air-popped kernels instead of croutons, or float kernels on bowls of winter squash or creamy tomato soup. Popcorn in this supporting role will excite as much comment as seeing your favorite actor hunk play in a role against type.
Popcorn Meatloaf, which I created while exploring popcorn’s savory possibilities, is a tradition at my Oscar viewing party. The popcorn, whirled in a food processor, replaces breadcrumbs as the binder. While keeping the meatloaf moist and adding appealing flavor, and it also makes it gluten-free.
Red Carpet Meatloaf
Turkey produces a light meatloaf perfect served with broccoli or green beans while 90 percent lean ground beef makes a denser loaf ideal accompanied by mashed potatoes. Use any kind of milk, including non-dairy. Baking the meatloaf in mini-loaf pans produces square slices that are neat served as finger food on whole-grain toast spread with ketchup.
4 cups air-popped popcorn
One (1 1/3 pound) package 93% lean ground turkey, or lean ground beef
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1/4 cup milk or soymilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/3 cup chili sauce or ketchup
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat an 8-inch x 4-inch loaf pan, or two 5 1/2-inch x 3 1/2-inch loaf pans, with cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse the popcorn in 5 second bursts until it is fine bits. Reserving 2 tablespoons for garnish, transfer the popcorn to a large mixing bowl.
Add all the other ingredients except the chili sauce to the popcorn and mix until well combined. Pack the mixture firmly into the prepared one or two pans. Spread the chili sauce evenly over the top of the meatloaf and sprinkle on the reserved popcorn bits.
Bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 F., 35 to 40 minutes for two small loaves, 60 minutes for one large meatloaf. Cool for 15 minutes before serving, or cool completely and serve at room temperature. Covered in the refrigerator, this meatloaf keeps for 3 days.