Street food always seems to me to be a totally different culinary experience, almost as though you are not in the city you think you are or even the country you think you are. Food trucks, farmer’s market food stands and the bacon wrapped hot dog guy outside the club at 2am all make street food seem like a treat, a special indulgence that you can’t get anywhere else. And that’s for sure how everyone feels about Mexican street corn.
Mexican street corn is simple, yet the flavors all together are unique and delicious. I can’t think of any recipes that remind me of Mexican street corn. It seems like that one special thing is the only place to get that flavor experience, but since I make lunches for my husband to take to work every week, I decided I’d do a spin on his regular pasta salad with this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.
I needed another vegetable, something to bulk up the pasta salad so it wasn’t just pasta and corn, so I grilled up some zucchinis, as well. Zucchini and corn are just a natural combination, and here in California, I can get great zucchinis year round.
I did give myself a short cut by using frozen fire roasted corn kernals from Trader Joe’s. You can definitely grill your own corn, but the frozen kind works in a pinch.
Queso fresco is the obvious choice for cheese in this Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, and if you could get it you should use it FOR SURE. But I didn’t have time to stop at another store and my TJ’s doesn’t carry queso fresco. They have Syrah soaked goat cheese and herbed Gouda, but no queso fresco… So, I used a fresh feta cheese that I crumbled myself. You can get the pre-crumbled kind to give yourself the tiniest bit of a time saver, but if you get the block and do the crumbling, I promise it will be worth it. The flavor of the block of feta is really much better than the pre-crumbled stuff.
Normally you’d use a bunch of mayo and sour cream for the dressing, but I love to lighten things up, so I use Greek yogurt and only 1 tablespoon of mayo. The flavor really comes from the lime juice and the spices, so there’s no need to add the extra calories that come from lots of sour cream and mayo, and you still get all that creaminess you want.
I’m all about the make ahead meals, especially when it comes to lunches. For more make ahead lunch ideas, try my Quinoa Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Cauliflower, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and Warm Lemon Basil Pasta Salad, which is great cold too!