Quick and Easy

Kale-Dusted Pecorino Popcorn From Deb Perelman

January 21, 2020
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio. Food Stylist: Anna  Billingskog.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 8 cups
Author Notes

Regardless of your feelings on kale chips, know that great things can be achieved by bashing them up. In this Genius Recipe from Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman, you get kale in magic dust form: the deep flavor of toasted greens scattered across the snackable crunch of popcorn, plus a superfine texture and well-distributed salt.

Perelman writes: "The first time I made kale chips, I thought I had done something wrong, or at least was being punished for some unobserved slight. What else could explain how terrible, bitter flatness was being cruelly passed off as a chip? Chips were something I previously knew in puffy foil packages, salty, fried, and delicious; you dipped them in sour-cream-and-onion sauce; you bought them covered in chocolate at candy shops. These were . . . green, and tasted it, too. So I did the only sensible thing and ground the chips into a powder, renamed it “kale dust” so it would sound as magical as possible, and sprinkled it over freshly popped popcorn.

It was kind of amazing how something so unpleasant magically transformed itself once it became a garnish. It was even better when I starting using more olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and a good helping of Pecorino Romano. Pecorino is one of my favorite cheeses. I like to joke that it's dainty Parmigiano-Reggiano's loud Roman cousin—saltier, funkier, and a little goes a much longer way. Seek out the Pecorino with the black rind, if you can; it's got my favorite flavor. Though kale chips can be made from either major variety of kale—curly or flat—I get a much better yield from the flat variety. If you're using curly kale instead, bake the chips for 20 minutes and begin with a 1-pound (455-gram) bunch to achieve 2/3 cups dust. You could start with store-bought kale chips to save time."

Recipe slightly adapted from "Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites" (Knopf, October 2017). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Kale-Dusted Pecorino Popcorn From Deb Perelman
  • Kale Dust
  • 1 bundle of Lacinato kale (aka dinosaur or Tuscan) (usually 9 to 10 ounces or 255 to 285 grams; if using curly kale, go for a 1-pound (454g) bunch))
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • Popcorn
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons (60 to 75 ml) olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (70 grams) popcorn kernels
  • 2/3 cup (95 grams) finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Kale Dust
  2. Heat the oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale; no worries if you don’t get every last droplet of water off. Remove and discard the tough stems.
  3. Lightly brush two large baking sheets with olive oil—the thinnest coat is just fine. Arrange the leaves in one layer on the prepared baking sheet(s), sprinkle lightly with salt, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the leaves are crisp. Let cool completely. In a food processor, with a mortar and pestle, or even with a muddler in a bowl, grind the kale chips down into a coarse powder.
  1. Popcorn
  2. Place 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 or 3 kernels of popcorn in a 3-quart or larger pot. Turn the heat to medium-high, and cover with a lid. When you hear these first kernels pop, add the remaining kernels and replace the lid. Using pot holders, shimmy the pot around to keep the kernels moving as they pop. When several seconds pass between pops, remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl, and immediately toss with the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, kale dust, Pecorino, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss until evenly coated. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • witloof
  • Jul
  • mostlycarbs
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

17 Reviews

witloof January 26, 2021
Kristen, can you please tell me if it's possible to buy the mortar and pestle you're using in the video?
Jul June 20, 2020
Excellent! We sprinkle this on everything from mac n cheese to salad to popcorn. It adds an extra zippy kick to everything! It stays fresh in an air tight container in the freezer for quite a long time. Genius!
mostlycarbs March 31, 2020
I followed all these steps, but I added one. After pulverizing dried Kale I put the whole batch back in the oven on parchment paper for a few more minutes. I was wildly surprised with how good this is. Definitely a genius recipe ;)
Melinda A. February 2, 2020
I just made this with nutritional yeast instead of cheese. It’s delicious!
Karenjude January 24, 2020
I’d like to make the kale dust ahead of time. How would I keep it and how long would it last?
4waystoyummy January 24, 2020
Dehydrated fruits last about 5 years and vegetables about 10 years...so I figure we have nothing to worry about. I probably keep mine 2 years...if I have plenty I just take a break from making it and use up what I have. It is also a great gift to give away to friends and family.
4waystoyummy February 2, 2020
That’s great!
Roy R. January 22, 2020
The popcorn will always taste better if peanut oil is used! I eat tons of popcorn
every week... try it... ( must be the filtered oil or it will smoke)
4waystoyummy January 22, 2020
I love coconut oil or avocado
Kristen M. January 23, 2020
Great to know about all these variations‚ thanks!
4waystoyummy January 22, 2020
I've been making kale powder for years. I use the dehydrator and grind the leaves in the blender. I add it to dips, dressings, eggs, spaghetti sauce and so on. It came about because when you grow food there is often "too much" of something...now I dehydrate everything and use all year long. It's a great way to clean out what's left in the refrigerator and I often mix in other veggies like celery or onion. The cheese popcorn sounds delicious but for those who can't eat cheese just add nutritional yeast. I also use soy sauce in place of salt as it goes so well with the yeast. Kids will love this!
Kristen M. January 23, 2020
Great points—thanks for sharing all these ways to use kale dust!
Sarah F. January 23, 2020
Love your idea of using the dehydrator. I've been searching for a good one for a few years now. Any recommendations?
4waystoyummy January 23, 2020
But of course, I do. Ha. While my son was growing up I dehydrated our fruit for snacks with a $5 machine from the Thrift Store. After he left I thought why don't I buy a good one. I researched and ended up being sold on Aroma brand. I thought I would buy the Excaliber but after seeing reviews The Aroma brand won my vote. Much cheaper and have used it extensively for years. What sold me was a great u-tube on the machine, unfortunately, I could not find it on the Internet. I don't think you'll regret it and it's perfect for using up less that perfect produce and making veggie dust. Good luck!
Sarah F. January 24, 2020
Thank you so much, 4waystoyummy! The Aroma dehydrator looks fantastic!
4waystoyummy January 24, 2020
I’m so glad. I make fruit powders too. Adding raspberry powder to my whipped cream gives a lovely fruit essence. Have fun!
witloof February 1, 2021
I have an inexpensive Aroma rice cooker and it does an impeccable job. It's an amazing brand!