Le Coq Rico is a poultry-centric bistro in Manhattan that specializes in whole roast birds: chicken, duck, game hen and quails.
But among such French classics, you can find some food fun; like this arugula-fig salad with parmesan cheese and a popcorn garnish!
After we first had it at the restaurant, we started using popcorn garnishes on our own salad: for eye appeal, taste, texture, and a bonus of added fiber (popcorn is a whole grain).
You can use a popcorn garnish on any salad, from Caesar to spinach; and on numerous other recipes, too.
Here’s a recipe for corn custard with a popcorn garnish.
And here are ways to use both savory and sweet popcorn flavors as garnishes—with breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts.
By the way, the name of Le Coq Rico is a bit of a pun: Cocorico is French for cock-a-doodle-doo.
RECIPE: ARUGULA OR WATERCRESS SALAD WITH FIGS
Arugula and/or watercress, washed and patted dry
Ripe figs, halved or quartered (when not in season, substitute fresh seasonal fruits or dried fruit)
Optional: toasted pecans (how to toast nuts)
Optional: sweet onion, thinly sliced
Garnish: popcorn, any savory flavor
1/3 cup fig balsamic vinegar (see substitutes below)
2/3 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped shallots
For The Dressing
1. MAKE the dressing. Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
2. PLACE the arugula/watercress and optional onions in a bowl and toss to dress lightly. Mound onto individual plates or a platter.
3. TOP with the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and sprinkle with the optional pecans.
4. TOP with the fig halves or quarters and sprinkle with the popcorn.
SUBSTITUTE FOR FIG BALSAMIC VINEGAR
If you don’t have fig balsamic vinegar, you can substitute 3-4 tablespoons of regular balsamic vinegar plus 1-2 tablespoons fig jam (5 tablespoons total). It will make a sweeter dressing.
However, fig balsamic is versatile:
ADD it to cocktails, like this Balsamic Negroni.
ADD it to marinades and braising liquids.
BOIL it into a syrupy glaze for savory and sweet dishes, including an ice cream topping.
DEGLAZE the sauté pan for an easy sauce for fish, meat or poultry.
MAKE mocktails or shrubs by adding a splash to soft drinks and club soda.
STIR a teaspoon per serving into soup at the end of cooking, for brightness and sophisticated flavor.
MORE POPCORN FUN
Popcorn Meat Loaf
Popcorn Party Bar
 A delicious combination of salad ingredients: arugula in a fig balsamic vinaigrette, topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, fresh figs and popcorn (photo © Le Coq Rico | NYC).
 You can shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a vegetable peeler. Bring it to room temperature if you’re concerned it may crumble (photo © Ethan Stowell Restaurants | Seattle).
 If you like arugula, you’ll like watercress equally. It use to be “the” peppery salad green until arugula became fashionable. They can be used interchangeably in salads, but not in cooking. Arugula can withstand heat; watercress can’t (photo © Good Eggs).