I’m pretty sure I was a college graduate before I witnessed someone putting anything but butter and salt on corn on the cob. After all, I grew up in Lancaster County, where corn is frequently consumed the day it is picked.
When produce is that fresh, the flavor needs little enhancement. In fact, many would consider it taboo to coat those sweet, golden kernels with anything that masked the flavor.
In my early Fountain Avenue Kitchen days, I asked my blog readers how they preferred to top this seasonal favorite. Answers varied by region and included such options as barbecue sauce, Old Bay seasoning, mayonnaise, pesto and honey
One reader said she tops her corn with olive oil, shredded coconut, chopped cilantro and minced garlic before wrapping it in foil and grilling it. Quite a few mentioned ingredients like lime juice, cotija or feta cheese, and cilantro.
As strange as the latter toppings sounded, I soon learned that they’re components of a popular dish called elote. Spanish for corncob, elote is also known as Mexican street corn because it’s commonly sold both on the street and at festivals in Mexico.
The basic formula is as follows: a layer of spicy Mexican crema (similar to sour cream) is slathered on the roasted corn before it’s rolled in crumbled cotija cheese (which is much like feta). Chili powder, cilantro and lime juice round out the flavors, and it’s often served on a stick.
Esquites is considered the off-the-cob version of elote. The following recipe is my take on that flavorful fare. The addition of a few extra veggies places this easy side dish in the salad category, yet it easily fills the role of vegetable or starch. It’s versatile enough to complement steak, chicken, seafood or tacos. On a hot night, consider serving it as part of a cold salad medley.
I have made this salad many times for family, friends and…