Is there any vegetable that screams summertime more than corn? Sure, there’s zucchini as big as a watermelon and plump yellow squash on the vines, red ripe tomatoes, too. But whenever I think of summer, I think of eating corn on the cob with butter dripping down my chin, and everyone else at the table chomping down on a cob like a beaver to wood.
As I’ve aged, though, the thought of eating corn on the cob is not as appealing as it once was. I don’t know why, but I much prefer cutting it from the cob and turning it into some kind of wonderful dish such as a Mexican street corn salad.
I had this salad at a friend’s house last summer and just couldn’t get it off my mind. She made it at the height of the season when freshly grown corn comes from local farms. And if you’ve ever had Mexican street corn, you know of which I speak when I say that it’s Unforgettably delicious when the corn is charred on the grill and mixed with a creamy sauce and topped with cojita cheese.
Turn it into a salad, though, and we’re talking manna from heaven. Mexican street corn salad takes basic Mexican street corn and adds some red onion and a little lime juice mixed with mayonnaise and sour cream, a touch of chili powder and, of course, the Cojita cheese, then serve cold. It makes a different side dish — a nice change from potato salad — to serve with grilled chicken, steak, burgers or whatever protein you might be searing on the grill this summer.
Word to the wise: I’ve made this with frozen corn and didn’t care for the texture once it was charred in the skillet. The corn was tough and flavorless. Stick with fresh corn, and it’s an excellent salad without even cooking the corn. Cut it straight from the cob and bypass the skillet. The fresh corn has such a nice crunch and makes for a refreshing side dish.
Mexican Street Corn Salad
6 whole corn cobs
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
1/4-1/3 cup sour cream
1 large garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
Zest from 1 small lime, plus the juice from one of the halves (1-2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
2 green onions, chopped
Shuck, rinse and dry corn and cut kernels from cobs. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add corn and turn heat up to medium-high. Cook for 3 minutes.
Mix to turn over and cook an additional 2-3 minute, caramelizing corn and stirring occasionally to keep corn from burning.
Turn off heat and allow to cool. In a large mixing bowl, add mayonnaise and sour cream. Using a microplane, grate as much of the garlic clove over the top as you can. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, lime zest, lime juice and cotija cheese.
Stir to combine. Add corn, red onion and green onion, then mix again until coated.
Refrigerate to chill. Stir before serving and garnish with extra cojita cheese, if desired.
Note: If you don’t want to cook the corn, omit the butter.