For those who know me, know I am an ATL-ien at heart. I moved to the low country a few short years ago, but still take pride in my first home that was burned by Sherman. So, for part two of my last post, revamping your leftover Christmas popcorn, I am taking inspiration from my first home.
Those of you that know me also know that my favorite restaurant in the “A” is JCT Kitchen, a Ford Fry creation. JCT has everything that is right with the south: soul food that is fresh and modern. Although it is hard to order something besides JCT’s signature fried chicken, there are a ton of worthy adversaries on the menu. One worthy dish is the Cracker Jack Salad. Yes Cracker Jack, as in the childhood treat with a surprise at the bottom the box. By no means is this a healthy salad, but what truly southern cuisine is. Unfortunately JCT no longer carries the salad on their menu, but now with the recipe below you can recreate it at home.
This salad has everything you can imagine, and each element contributes to a balanced bite. The arugula base adds the right amount of bite to combat the sweet hit of caramel popcorn. Sharp red onions work with the tangy yet sweet apple vinegarette. Salt comes from the thinly shaved prosciutto. And to ensure you are actually reminded of a box of Cracker Jacks, the salad features spiced peanuts.
Although it is a salad, this is not one that will work for your resolute diet but the taste is worth the splurge!
- 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1 apple (of any variety), peeled, cored, and sliced
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of ground white pepper
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
Purée the apple in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add all of the remaining ingredients listed above into the food processor. Blend until fully incorporated, 10-20 seconds. Place in sealed container and in fridge until ready to use. Note: this dressing will stay fresh for about one day.
- 1/2 cup of raw shelled peanuts
- 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all of the above ingredients into a tupperware bowl. Place lid on the bowl and shake vigorously until the peanuts are evenly coated. Spread onto a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake 5-10 minutes until the peanuts become fragrant.
Cracker Jack Salad
Ingredients for large salad that feeds at least four:
- 5 ounces (by weight) of Arugula
- 1 cup of leftover caramel popcorn
- 1/2 cup of Spiced Peanuts (recipe above)
- 1/2 of a red onion
- 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
- 7 ounces (by weight) of Prosciutto
- 1/4 of a cup Apple Vinaigrette to start
Cut an onion in half down the middle and remove skin from one half, store the other half for later. Cut tip of the onion bulb off before slicing the remaining onion in half to create two half circles. Thinly slice your halves of red onion.
In a large bowl for serving, place your arugula in the bowl. Top with your onion, prosciutto, spiced peanuts, and blue cheese.
Pour over dressing to taste or enough to fully coat the salad. I started with 1/4 of a cup, and added more until the salad was as covered as desired. Toss to coat. Add more dressing if needed, and toss again. Finish by topping the salad with the popcorn. Serve immediately.