May 4, 2014

Mexican Street Corn Esquites Salad Recipe (Great for Potlucks)


I've been following the Paleo diet (no grains or dairy) somewhat, but not strictly for the last year or so, which means rarely having any corn.  I didn't miss it for a long time, but all of a sudden the thought of corn sounded sooo..... good to me.
So when I when I needed a side to go with my Mexican lasagna casserole (one day I will post that recipe), I couldn't help but think that mexican street grilled corn would be so perfect, but corn is off season right now so finding corn on the cob is difficult especially is you want organic (so that it's not GMO).  So I thought hey what if I used frozen organic corn and made it into a salad.  Well when I had that thought there was no longer any doubt.  I had to try to create Mexican street corn salad.  Mexican street corn is basically corn on the cob topped with mayo, lime, chilli powder, salt, pepper, and cotija cheese.

What makes this dish great is the magic that happens when you toast corn.  Basically toasting corn is making the sugars in the corn caramelize.  Kind of like when you caramelize onions. By itself cooked like this it's great, but as a salad it's even better.

This is a great for a side dish to a Mexican meal, pot-luck, or party.  It's fast to make and unique. It's made of pretty standard pantry items in most kitchens (except for the cheese that you could substitute with cream cheese, and cilantro), and frozen corn.  Sure to impress with little effort!   Next pot-luck I'm invited to I will definitely make this dish.  Who wouldn't love a cheesy corn side with Mexican flavours?


Mexican Street Corn Esquites Salad 
(serves 4-6)
Adapted from The Kitchen

Ingredients

2 tablespoons pasture raised butter
4 cups fresh or frozen organic yellow corn, thawed if frozen (from about 6 ears)

1 small organic hot pepper (such as jalapeƱo or red chile), seeded and minced (optional)
3 tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese, plus more for garnishing (can sub with 2 oz of reduced fat cream cheese warmed in the microwave if you can't find)
2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise (or more to taste) make your own it's so easy and taste better, I promise
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoons Mexican-style chili powder (I used Archer farm's Ancho chilli powder found at Super Targets)
1 Tablespoon organic lime juice (or squeezed fresh from an organic lime)
sea salt or pink salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions
In a large cast-iron skillet, heat butter on medium high until shimmering. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is toasted and golden brown (see above picture), 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temp.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the toasted corn mixture with the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasoning as desired. Serve at room temperature with additional cotija cheese, or shredded Mexican cheeses.  I used Trader Joe's reduced fat Mexican cheese blend. 

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