Elote, the iconic Mexican corn on the cob, typically slathered in mayonnaise and sprinkled with cayenne and Cotija cheese, is hands down my favorite way to enjoy the most beloved vegetable of the summer.
Sweet corn, creamy mayo, salty, aged cheese with a touch of heat is a match made in heaven. So much so, chefs all over the country have figured out countless ways to serve this dish both on and off the cob. Who can blame them? The flavor combination is irresistible.
Crispy elote pancakes, elote fritters and elote pasta are just a few of the menu items I’ve run across. Inspired by all the attention this street snack has recently received, I decided to try it with one of my go-to salads, the ever-popular Caesar.
The original Caesar salad was created in Tijuana by Italian-American restaurateur Caesar Cardini, so taking the idea of the famous border-town salad and giving it a Mexican street food twist seemed like a natural.
Of course, it all starts on the grill. Ears of corn, along with a couple of poblano peppers, are grilled together. The corn is stripped of its kernels and peppers are peeled, seeded and chopped.
Crisp, cool romaine lettuce is tossed with a mayonnaise-based dressing. Although a traditional Caesar does not include mayo, it does start with an egg yolk that’s emulsified with an acid and oil, which is basically how mayonnaise is made, so I didn’t feel like my step-saving version was too much of a stretch.
While the classic Caesar employs lemon juice, anchovies and garlic for its flavor boost, I stick to the spirit of elote by using fresh lime juice, garlic and a hint of cayenne which gives it just a bit of a kick.
The lettuce, coated in the creamy lime dressing, forms the base of the salad. The grilled corn and peppers are scattered over the top, along with a generous showering of Cotija cheese. Cotija is an aged Mexican cheese that can be found in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, Parmesan cheese makes a good substitution. Crispy tortilla strips give our Caesar the expected crunch we usually get from croutons.
This salad makes a memorable side dish to whatever else you’re grilling, but if you’d prefer to make it the star of show, just slice a grilled steak or chicken breast and add it to the bowl. I don’t think Caesar would mind.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.