This Mexican street corn salad is easy to prepare and packed with delicious fresh flavors. With a healthier dressing that's still full of all the flavors you'd expect, it makes a great side or potluck salad.
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As I mentioned when I shared my mango habanero sauce, the taco place near us has reminded me or introduced me to a few favorites, and Mexican street corn, or elotes, is one of them.
Delicious grilled corn, a squeeze of lime and topped with a gently spiced crema, cotija cheese, paprika and cilantro is just so good. But let's face it, it's not exactly easy to eat with any kind of grace.
There is an off-the-cob equivalent called esquites which is basically the same ingredients but served in a cup. I've added a couple of additions to the basic idea to make this tasty Mexican street corn salad. It's full of all your favorite flavors and makes a great side to almost any meal.
When our Foodie Extravaganza theme this month was salad and it fell during the week we are sharing Mexican recipes, I was sure I must be able to combine both. After all, I've made a Mexican chopped salad and mango jicama slaw before which we both love. However neither are particularly authentic.
My memories or salad in Mexico are a bit vague - I tend to remember simple salads and slaws, but salsas were really king. As I looked into it, this seemed a fair reflection. So, I adapted a traditional snack/relish.
To grill or not to grill?
Having looked at different recipes for esquites, they tend to cook the corn in a pan rather than on the grill. At first I was a little skeptical, as I love that grilled flavor, but I understand it's easier. We grilled the corn as we were grilling anyway, but I've described the pan method as well.
Making this Mexican street corn salad
Once you've cooked your corn, you add the black beans, cilantro/coriander and scallions/ spring onions. Mix together the dressing ingredients and stir it through.
See how easy it is to make in the short video!
While your traditional esquites generally has a little cilantro, there's more here plus the other additions to make it a bit more salad-like. Normally you'd top it, as you would elote, with Mexican crema, paprika and cotija cheese. Here, those flavors are incorporated into a delicious dressing.
Here I've used yogurt for the dressing instead of crema to make it a little lighter, but it's still really creamy. Especially with the lime, cumin and smoked paprika mixed in, it's packed with flavor.
Feta works as a good alternative if you can't find cotija (or don't see yourself using it up). Then there's only a little bit of chopping and mixing to put it all together.
This Mexican street corn salad is easy to prepare and packed with delicious, fresh flavor. It was an instant hit in our house and I can see it being perfect for almost any event, from potluck dinners to picnics. It will definitely be on our summer table often.
Try these other summer salads:
- Grilled nectarine salad
- Mexican chopped salad
- Mango jicama slaw
- Plus get more summer recipes, from salads to grilling and more, in the archives.
Mexican street corn salad
- 2 ears corn, small-medium (2 small cobs giving approx 1 ½ cup kernels - can use frozen defrosted if out of season)
- ⅓ cup cilantro chopped, coriander
- 4 scallions/spring onions (4 scallions gives approx ½ cup chopped, including most of green part)
- ⅓ cup black beans
- ¼ cup cotija cheese roughly crumbled, ¼c is about 1oz (use feta if no cotija)
- ¼ cup plain yogurt (I used Greek style)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- If using fresh corn and you want to grill - shuck the corn including all the hairy part then grill, turning now and then and moving to a cooler part of the grill if too hot until gently grilled. You should have the odd bits brown and it will go a slightly darker yellow as it cooks. Allow to cool slightly before removing the kernels from the stem. To do this, stand on the thick end in a shallow bowl and use a sharp knife to cut down and remove kernels. Turn and repeat until all removed.
- If you'd rather pan-cook, remove the kernels first and heat a little butter or oil (or a mix, you need around 1tbsp total) in a medium skillet. Cook for around 5 minutes until the kernels have softened but are not charred then remove from heat.
- Roughly chop the cilantro and slice the scallions. Put both in a bowl along with the corn kernels, black beans and cheese.
- Mix together the dressing ingredients (yogurt, lime juice, cumin and paprika) then add to the salad and mix until all combined.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Try these other Mexican-inspired dishes:
- Champurrado from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Shrimp Veracruz from the Tip Garden
- Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken from Cooking With Carlee
- Cilantro Lime Rice from Books n' Cooks
- Frozen Peach Margaritas from Family Around the Table