I had some leftover light sour cream from making the Chilled Vegetable Pizza, and it happened to be about 1/3 cup. Immediately I was able to rationalize making a version of another Pinterest recipe I had pinned in the same board, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad from the blog Cinnamon, Spice and Everything Nice. Mmmm Elote Pasta Salad.
I am a huge fan of elote- I first had it when I lived in Chicago, from the New Maxwell Street Market which actually is not on Maxwell street anymore since being relocated (twice!), but still offers an international array of goods in an open market on summer Sundays that is a mix of flea market with Asian and Hispanic vendors and also Mexican street food fair.
Examples of Elote from my past… the first set of 4 are actually from the New Maxwell Street Market in Chicago, the next two from the farmers market at Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the last from Elote Cafe in Sedona. I wanted to combine the stronger bursts of flavor from those two market experiences with the less scary visual presentation of the last one.
Elote is a popular street food in Mexico that consists of corn on the cob that is grilled and then slathered with mayonnaise, sour cream, Cotija cheese, lime juice, salt and spices, and sometimes liquid margarine. F rolls his eyes when he sees me making a beeline for this because of the ingredients, but the flavors are irresistible. You can eat this messily from the cob, or also ask them to cut the kernels into a cup to eat with a spoon for a little less messy face.
It’s hot and smoky from the grill, but creamy from the mayo sour cream mix, a bit of salt from the well salt and cheese, and has a brightness from the lime juice and maybe a bit of spice depending on the amount of chili. For my version I upgraded the call for chili powder or cayenne pepper with ground chipotle chili for more spice and smoke in the flavor profile. And, at least there is no liquid margarine. I adapted the recipe also because didn’t have corn on the cob, but I had some frozen corn kernels and took a cue from Esquites which is similar to elote but using pan roasted corn.
Elote Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces pasta
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon chile powder or cayenne pepper, or 2 teaspoons of ground chipotle chili
- The juice from one lime and the zest, or about 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups corn kernels
- 1 diced avocado
- 1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled. You can also use Parmesan, Asiago, or Feta but may want to reduce the amount since the cheese flavor is more intense.
- First, the pasta. Cook it the normal way in your favorite pot with boiling salted water.You can use any type of pasta you would like, but get one that has a lot of ridges that can hold the dressing- rotini, radiatore, fusilli, and I like little scoopy conchiglie shells or ditalini small tube too
- While the water is boiling/pasta cooking, create the elote dressing. Mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, chili, lime until smooth. Once the pasta is al dente and rained, put one tablespoon of this dressing into the pasta and stir so all the pasta is coated and won’t stick to each other. Then I put the pasta, as well as the rest of the dressing, into the refrigerator to chill.
- Now, the corn. Heat the olive oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the corn. Cook 5 to 6 minutes without moving or until corn starts to char. Then toss corn, stir, and repeat to let the corn brown on both sides.
- The easy part is now just bringing all these together. Add the pasta and corn together. Add the dressing a little at a time, mixing gently to coat as you go, until you achieve your desired flavor mix. Gently toss in the avocado and cheese. If you’d like, top with a dusting of the chili powder and bit more of the crumbled Cotija cheese, and garnish upon serving with a lime wedge.
You can make this without the pasta of course, but this made for a nice summer lunch dish for F and I.