This mighty & healthy fresco elote salad is a wonderful, refreshing, and vibrant side for your summer dinner plate. It packs all of the flavor punch without the need for a post meal nap!
A Rose By Any Other Name…
You may have heard this dish called Mexican Street Corn Salad, Esquites, or Elotes. No matter what the name, this is freaking delicious. Typically served as a Mexican street food, it is comprised of grilled or boiled corn on the cob slathered in mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime. My favorite version, also referred to as Esquite, is cut off the cob and loaded in a cup with all the delicious ingredients listed above. If you haven’t had it, you should. Scratch that, just make our version – it has all the things and even more.
On to this recipe. I’ve been making and enhancing my mighty & healthy fresco elote salad for years. At this point, I guess I’m kind of known for it, having had multiple requests to bring “the corn salad thing,” as it’s often called, to gatherings. I understand why. It’s an explosion of complimentary flavors, with a hint of heat and a nip of lime. It compliments so many different meals so well that it could *almost* slip into an Italian dinner and add a little something something. This recipe is one of a very few items (other than my pizza) that I don’t get sick of eating on a regular basis.
What Makes This Different?
What’s different with this versus normal elotes? Freshness, airiness, and a little more snap/crunch… Our delicious traditional elote, while so good, is quite the carb load. One Solo cup full of elotes and it’s time to scout park benches for a catnap. This elote salad has all the same delicious ingredients and more, being mixed in with fresh crunchy cabbage, red bell pepper, poblano, and slivered red onion. With all those veggies, you can even consider it *mostly* good for you! Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Can I Make This Ahead of Time?
Yes! As with any salad or vegetable, it will start to break down and won’t look as pretty day two or three. My suggestion is to chop and mix all the veggies, wrap them tight, refrigerate them and wait until the day of to add the mayo and Cotija cheese.
What Should I Serve This With?
This salad is delicious on it’s own and would make a great addition to any type of potluck activity. It ALWAYS amazes me how much people appreciate something fresh at those types of events when there are so many sweets. This is also excellent as a salsa on top of chicken tacos, steak carnitas, nachos, etc. It would also be a great little dip with some chips for people to snack on pre-meal as an appetizer.
Tips and Tricks for Mighty & Healthy Fresco Elote Salad
- Does it go well with tequila? Yes! How about beer and wine? Yes and yes, especially if the beer is cold.
- I can’t find Cotija… Is there another cheese? Grated Parmesan will do the trick. Parmesan is generally less salty, so you may or may not have to add some additional salt. I’ll leave that up to you. Most grocery stores, including Walmart, Kroger, and Safeway have cotija and other Mexican dairy products tucked away next to your shredded cheese section.
- Can I use lime juice instead of zest? Yes, you’ll probably want to add an extra tablespoon or two of cojita to counteract the liquid. Don’t use the pre-bottled stuff though!
- Can I use bagged cabbage? Okay here is the thing…you can use bagged cabbage and it will save you some time, but it won’t be quite the same. Fresh cabbage is incredibly crispy and peppery. It can store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks up until 2 months. Bagged cabbage goes bad in about 2 weeks (and that’s if you get it fresh, fresh, fresh). Just the difference in expiration should help encourage you to try fresh. Honestly, it’s not overly intimidating. If you haven’t done fresh before, check out this information sheet from Oregon State. It’s very helpful!
- If you are a cabbage hater, you can try broccoli slaw. You can cut up your own, but it’s a decent amount of work, so I’ll let bagged slide.