Elote salad puts fresh corn to good use

Gretchen Mckay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In my kitchen, the arrival of Memorial Day often coincides with corn showing up at my neighborhood grocery store. It’s not local — we have to wait until mid-July for our wonderful Pennsylvania sweet corn to arrive at farmers markets — but it’s fine, a taste of all the summer goodness to come.

We eat a lot on the cob, of course, with lots of salt and butter. But for the last few years, we’ve also been on an elote kick.

If you’re not familiar, I’m speaking of the Mexican street corn that comes slathered with spicy Mexican crema and crumbled Cotija cheese. It’s cheesy, salty, creamy and a little bit fiery all at the same time, thanks to the addition of chiles, garlic and mayo.

This recipe captures all the same great flavors but in salad form. It can be served warm or cold, as a side dish or as a vegetarian filling for tacos. One bite, and you’ll crave it all summer long.

I’m pretty liberal with the paprika because I love the smokiness it adds to the dish. Same with the cilantro and jalapeño, which, if you’re not a fan, you can reduce or leave out altogether.

If you don’t have a corn stripper, remove the kernels from the cob in a bowl using a sharp paring knife.

Elote Salad

4 ears fresh corn, husked and cut off the cob (about 4 cups)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, very finely minced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

4 scallions, chopped

1/3 cup crumbled feta or Cotija cheese

Handful fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for dusting

Salt and pepper

In large nonstick skillet, warm oil until it is shimmering. Add corn kernels and stir fry until corn is crispy throughout, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic and lime juice. Stir in scallions, feta and cilantro and mix well, then add warm corn. Slice the kernels off the corn and add to the bowl along with the scallions. Stir to coat, then add the cheese, cilantro, jalapeño and smoked paprika.

Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away for a warm dish, garnished with a dusting of paprika, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4.

– Gretchen McKay