The Co-op’s Version of a Summer Mexican Favorite
- 6 medium-sized ears of corn
- 1 pint red and yellow grape tomatoes
- ¼ bunch scallions, sliced
- 1 avocado
- ¼ cup + 3 Tbs. fresh squeezed lime juice
- ¼ cup neutral oil
- Queso fresco, crumbled or cubed small, to taste
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
With summer fast approaching, I want to share the Co-op’s recipe for Mexican Street Corn Salad. Grilled Mexican Street corn is also known as elote, which translates to "corn" in Spanish.
Elote evolved from the word "elotitutl,” which means "tender cob.” It’s a popular staple of Mexican food trucks and can be found in Mexico and Central America. Although it’s still wildly popular for its convenience and because it is easy to eat on the go, it goes all the way back to Aztec civilization. Toppings may vary, but elote is usually covered in mayonnaise, Cotija cheese, cilantro, lime juice and Cayenne pepper.
I first tasted it years ago when I was at a friend's house for a summer barbeque party. My friend had a traditional charcoal grill and I watched as he placed several ears of corn on the grill, turning the ears as they began to get charred. Once they were blackened enough, he placed the hot corn on a platter with all the ingredients mentioned above in small bowls next to the corn. I was one of the first guests to try this intriguing, new-to-me dish. One bite, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Several years ago, I wanted to reproduce elote to sell at the Co-op. I knew we couldn't serve it hot, as it is intended to be eaten, so I reimagined it as a salad with a healthier dressing than mayonnaise. I added avocado, tomato and scallions, dressed it in lime juice and neutral-flavored oil and seasoned it generously with salt and pepper. It's been a staple of my summer table and I hope it will be on yours as well.
Quarter the red and yellow grape tomatoes and place them in a medium to large bowl. Add scallions.
Carefully cut the avocado in half and remove the pit, then quarter it and remove the skin. Once skin is fully removed, cut the avocado into medium chunks. Place it in a separate small bowl and immediately mix in two to three tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice. This will prevent the avocado from oxidizing, or turning brown.
Remove the husks from the corn and with a paper towel or new toothbrush, remove as much silk as you can. If using a grill, place the corn over direct heat and char it lightly, turning to expose all sides to the heat. If you do not have a grill, you can char the corn over a gas burner on your stove, as if you were charring peppers.
Once the corn is charred, remove it from the grill and place it on a tray until it is cool enough to handle. Once it’s cool, stand each ear of corn on an end, and holding firmly to the top part of the ear, slice the kernels off the cob. Discard or compost the cobs.
Add all the shaved corn to the tomatoes and scallions, then add the neutral oil and ¼ cup lime juice. Mix the ingredients and add the avocado. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or platter and add a generous amount of queso fresco. Finish with fresh cilantro.
Pro Tip: I find that putting a small upside-down bowl within a larger bowl, standing the ear of corn on the smaller bowl and stripping it allows the kernels to fall into the larger bowl and prevents the corn from going all over the place. In any case, be careful when you’re stripping the corn, because the cob is likely to slip. Wear cut gloves if you have them.