This salad is light, fresh and full of bright flavors. Grilled sweet corn, peppers, and onions are tossed with a cilantro-lime dressing making it the perfect side dish (or chip dip!) for taco night!Jump to Recipe
When most people think of Iowa, they think of one of two things: pigs or corn. We have more pigs than any other state and there’s corn/beans growing along almost every road, so I suppose it’s a fairly accurate depiction of our state!
Does field corn = sweet corn?
What many people don’t know is that the majority of the corn grown in Iowa isn’t grown for human consumption. You see, sweet corn and field corn are very different. Sweet corn is what we see in the grocery store and field corn (which is over 99% of the corn in Iowa) is grown for livestock feed.
So if you think about it, it really makes sense why Iowa is a great place to raise pigs. Farmers grow corn and soybeans, feed it to their livestock, and use the manure as an organic fertilizer on their land to help the next year’s crop grow even better. Ag is pretty cool, huh??
Although most of the corn my family grew was field corn, we typically had a few rows of sweet corn. Oh how I miss being able to walk out the to backyard to grab a few cobs! That freshly-picked sweet corn just can’t be beat.
The beginning of sweet corn season was amazing. Us kids would pick the corn, shuck it and bring it in for Mom to cook. But there was one day that I know I dreaded…..”sweet corn day.” It was the one day each summer that we’d freeze bags upon bags of sweet corn so we could enjoy it year round. Pick, shuck, wash, cut, bag. Pick, shuck, wash, cut, bag. And on and on and on!!
Looking back, I shouldn’t have complained. Sure, they were typically hot and muggy days, but once we’d get started, it really wasn’t all that bad. We’d play music, chat, and probably argue over who could shuck a corn cob the fastest. And the fact that we’d have tasty sweet corn throughout the year was worth every minute of “sweet corn day!”
Eating sweet corn right off the cob (after being lathered in butter and a sprinkling of salt) just can’t be beat. However, in the future, when I buy corn, I’ll be sure to buy a few extra ears for this recipe I’m sharing with you today!
This recipe is called Mexican Street Corn Salad because in Mexico, there are several street vendors that’ll sell corn on the cob with a variety of toppings. This recipe incorporates all of those flavors in a fresh and vibrant salad.
Although I can’t help but eat this salad straight from the mixing bowl with a big ‘ol spoon, I’ve also used it as a dip for tortilla chips and as a “corn salsa” on tacos. No matter how you eat it, it’s fantastic!
What should my corn and red pepper look like coming off the grill?
There’s really no “right or wrong” when it comes to charring the vegetables. Essentially the more you char them, the darker they’ll get and the more “char flavor” you’ll have in the salad. I like them how they look in the photo below. They’re not super dark, but they have some nice charred pieces that will bring some flavor to the recipe.
What if I don’t have a grill?
No problem at all. This recipe can easily be made on the stovetop! Essentially, instead of charring the corn and red pepper on the grill, you’ll do the same thing on a hot saucepan….easy!!
Can I add avocados?
I don’t think I could ever say “no” to avocados. You certainly can – it’ll add a little extra creaminess that will be incredible. Just remember that you’ll want to add the avocado right before serving so they don’t turn into little brown cubes in your beautiful salad!
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes!! One thing that I love about this recipe is that you can put it together (minus the cheese) and keep it in the refrigerator until you need it. Then, simply crumble the cheese on, stir it up, and serve!
Mexican Street Corn Salad
- 4 cobs sweet corn shucked and cleaned
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/2 c sliced cherry tomato (or chopped Romas)
- 1/4 c finely chopped red onion
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1/4 c chopped cilantro
- 2 tbsp sour cream or plain greek yogurt
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 4 oz queso fresco or cotija cheese crumbled
- Heat the grill to about 450°F.
- Set the corn and red pepper directly on the grill grates to give them a little char. Rotate the corn and pepper every 2 minutes until it's got some color on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes total. Remove them from the grill.
- (Alternatively, if you would prefer not to grill, place a dry skillet over high heat. Once it's hot, add the corn and pepper. Rotate every couple minutes until there is color on all sides, similar to what you'd do on the grill. Remove the corn and pepper and let cool a bit.)
- When the charred corn and peppers are cool enough to handle, cut the corn off and dice the pepper.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the corn, red pepper, diced tomatoes and chopped onions. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, cilantro, sour cream, salt, paprika, oil and vinegar.
- Pour the sauce over the salad and toss to combine.
- When ready to serve, crumble the cheese over the salad and toss.