Try this simple recipe for vegan elote (off the cob). This twist on a Mexican street food classic is quick, healthy, and delicious.
Elote, a Mexican style of grilled corn on the cob, is typically served with a stick or handle made from the husk of the corn, making it ideal street food. If you want to try making elote at home and don’t necessarily want to deal with the mess of eating corn on the cob, esquites is another tasty choice.
Esquites, which comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl’s izquitl (roughly translated to ‘roasted corn’), is similar to elote but this dish removes the corn from the cob, and is usually served in a cup.
Authentic elote and esquites are often made with Mexican crema, cotija cheese, and mayonnaise. While the traditional varieties are made with animal products, this recipe for off-the-cob elote offers a vegan twist on this Mexican street food classic.
Vegan Elote (Off the Cob) Ingredients
For this vegan off-the cob elote recipe, you will need these ingredients:
- 4 ears of fresh yellow corn, or 2 cups (thawed) frozen corn
- 1 red onion, coarsely chopped (cut into 3/4 inch slices)
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- ¼ cup of vegan mayonnaise
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, diced
- ½ teaspoon chili powder, plus more for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Step 1: Prepare the Corn
Prepare the corn by slicing the yellow kernels from cob. If you don’t have access to good fresh corn, you can use frozen corn instead, just be sure to thaw before starting.
Elote and esquitas are usually made with roasted or grilled corn, but for this recipe you can choose between sautéing, roasting, or grilling your corn. Grilled corn will bring out a more charred and robust flavor in the corn, sautéing will result in a lighter flavor, and roasting your corn in the oven will get you something in between.
If you want a faster recipe or if you’re using frozen corn kernels, you will have to sauté the corn with the red onion in avocado oil until the corn is slightly charred.
If you have fresh corn on the cob, you can roast the whole corn on a grill or in the oven. Start by brushing avocado oil over the whole corn until it is evenly distributed. Then, wrap the corn along with pieces of onion in aluminum foil so that the foil is tight enough to keep the onion slices inside without falling out.
Grill or roast the corn until it’s charred to your liking. When it’s cooled enough, you can slice the kernels from the cob. Put the cooked kernels and onion slices in a medium bowl to add other ingredients to later.
Step 2: Make Spice Blend
In a small bowl, mix together:
- cayenne pepper
- chili powder
Step 3: Mix All Other Ingredients
In a medium bowl, mix:
- vegan mayo
- lime juice
- chopped pepper
Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed.
Step 4: Serve Off the Cob Elote and Garnish
Scoop the corn mixture into bowls and sprinkle the spice blend on top of the corn as desired.
Your esquites can be served with additional toppings such as vegan cheese, avocado slices or guacamole, salsa, nutritional yeast, lime wedges, or hot sauce depending on what you like!
Pro Tip: Serve your off-the-cob elote in a cup to get the true esquites feeling.
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