Have you ever had elote (pronounced “eh-loh-tay”)? If you’ve had it, we’ll bet you loved it. If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat! Our “Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad,” is a tasty, nutritional spin on the classic elote recipe.
But what is elote anyway?
Commonly called “Mexican Street Corn,” elote is simply grilled or boiled corn on the cobb smothered in mayonnaise and topped with chili pepper, salt, cheese, lime juice and hot sauce. By now, you’re probably wondering why the heck are we talking about anything “smothered” in mayo. How could that possibly be healthy, right?
We get it. Taken at face value, elote doesn’t have the “healthiest” ingredients list – but there’s always a method to our madness.
A huge fan of authentic Mexican food, our founder, Nina, occasionally indulged in this popular street food while working near the largely Mexican American Pilsen community on Chicago’s Lower West Side. She was infamous for treating herself to a couple of elotes any time she had a challenging workday.
As That Salad Lady, it didn’t take long for her to build a more nutritious version in salad form. In what’s now our Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad, she:
- Added sweet red and poblano peppers to freshly shucked corn for authentic Mexican flavor and a powerful antioxidant boost.
- Tossed in freshwater shrimp for added protein, even more antioxidants and a hefty dose of health-promoting vitamins and minerals.
- Dressed the salad in a homemade chipotle sauce prepared with quality mayo, strained (Greek) yogurt and authentic spices and seasonings.
One of our signature recipes, this deliciously rich and savory Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad, is naturally gluten-free, pescatarian-friendly, and the perfect addition to a Taco Tuesday menu, potluck or dinner party.
THE BALANCING ACT
Depending on your eating style, you might already be turned off by the main ingredient in our recipe – corn. Corn is a starchy vegetable that’s abundant in carbs. Starchy foods in general have long been an enemy of weight-loss seekers as they tend to drive up calorie counts. Certain starches are also rapidly digested and absorbed by the body, which causes blood sugar levels to rise. However, owing to its fiber and phytonutrients, this really isn’t the case with corn.
As with many whole foods, the key to eating corn lies in portion control. Food pairings matter too! Corn is best when eaten in sensible amounts and paired with protein and non-starchy veggies to further support healthy digestion and absorption.
Below we suggest ideal portions of corn – just enough for you to experience all the bold, craveable flavors elotes have to offer. Our recipe is also packed with protein and plenty of non-starchy veggies to boost the nourishing value of the corn. The perfect blend of creamy, sweet and savory, you won’t believe how satisfying just a small portion is.
Let’s talk more about what’s in our Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad recipe and why?
Ears and Ears of Sweet, Juicy Corn
We’ve already talked about the nutritional value of corn. Now, let’s talk about choosing it for maximum benefit. Our recipe specifically calls for fresh corn on the cobb as it’ll result in the best flavor – especially during peak season (May through September). When choosing corn on the cobb, ensure the kernels are nice and full but not packed so tightly that there’s no space in between. The freshest kernels will contain a slightly milky white fluid when pinched.
If you’re in a region where fresh corn on the cobb is only available during the summer months, you can also use frozen corn. No worries, the overall nutritional quality is well preserved. If convenience is an issue, a microwavable pack that cooks in the bag will do as it’ll deliver sweetness similar to fresh.
Tender, Succulent Shrimp for Added Protein
Here at That Salad Lady, shrimp are one of our favorite salad toppers. Not only are shrimp incredibly versatile, but they also boast an impressive nutrient profile, with high doses of protein, B vitamins and antioxidants. Notably, shrimp provide almost 100% of a day’s worth of the antioxidant selenium, an often overlooked mineral that supports healthy thyroid function. Selenium also amplifies the beneficial effects of other antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
Our recipe calls for using white shrimp, as they’re tender in texture and have a pleasantly mild flavor. White shrimp are especially great for soaking in all the bold flavors in the blend and their size and texture really stand out. Pink shrimp work too, as they’re also sweet with an even more mild flavor profile. But feel free to use whatever kind of shrimp you like. You can even use pre-cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp to save yourself some time.
A Fresh and Flavorful Veggie Trio
Our recipe includes a sweet, earthy and pleasantly pungent veggie trio consisting of red pepper, poblano pepper and green onion. Besides being the perfect flavor pairings for corn, each of these ingredients bring valuable nutrients to the whole bowl. The brightest and best of bell peppers, red peppers are rich in carotenoids, which have powerful disease-fighting antioxidant effects.
Similar to reds, poblano peppers are abundant in antioxidants too. If you’ve never heard of poblanos, they’re a popular Mexican chili pepper. Though similar in appearance and flavor to green peppers, poblanos comes with a bit more spice. That’s exactly why we chose them for this recipe. You can substitute poblanos with equal parts green pepper if that’s all you have. But you might have to add a little jalapeño or cayenne pepper to make up for the spice.
Then there’s the final veggie in the mix – green onion. Green onions themselves bring good bite and also deliver healthy doses of carotenoids and vitamin K, a potent fat-soluble vitamin known to support heart health and blood pressure control.
Rich and Creamy Chipotle Sauce
As mentioned earlier, our recipe calls for dressing the salad in a homemade chipotle sauce prepared with quality mayo, Greek yogurt and authentic spices and seasonings, including chipotle paste, paprika and cayenne pepper (see recipe card). That Salad Lady generally uses Sir Kensington’s Organic Mayonnaise, a genuine mayo made with quality ingredients, gluten-free and rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
The creaminess of the mayo is amplified by Greek yogurt. Besides being an excellent source of quality protein, this style of yogurt is chock-full of probiotics, which support digestive health. While low-fat and nonfat varieties work, we suggest using a plain, full-fat version. If you’re dairy-averse, plain coconut yogurt is an ideal swap.
Sprinkles of Something Old and New
For an extra punch of bold flavor, our Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad recipe includes homemade bacon bits and cheese as optional ingredients. While traditional elote recipes call for cotija cheese, we use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead. Since it’s an aged cheese, just a tiny bit packs a whole lot of flavor and tangy bite. It does, however, come at a higher price point. If it’s better for your budget, feel free to use regular parmesan cheese instead.
Then there is bacon which, in spite of its bad reputation, isn’t all that bad when used sparingly (check out our Nutrition Glossary to learn more). We chose pork bacon for our recipe, but you can experiment with other types and see what you like. Whether pork, turkey or meatless, the texture, sheer saltiness and savory flavor of bacon makes it the perfect pairing for the corn, veggies and other ingredients. You can also leave out the bacon altogether if you wish.
A wee bit of cooking is required for the: (1) corn, (2) shrimp and (3) bacon if you choose to build your bowl with it.
We suggest making bacon crumbles or bits, which will take about 10-12 minutes using our recipe. If using fresh corn on the cob, shuck and rinse each cob well under water. Cutting off the corn kernels in advance will make the cooking process a whole lot easier. You can do this with either a sharp knife or a corn peeler. Once you’ve cut off all the corn, simply steam it for about 7-10 minutes as per the recipe card.
Our Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad recipe calls for white shrimp (peeled and deveined) but, again, feel free to use whatever kind you like. If you’re using frozen shrimp, it’s best to thaw them first. Once they’ve completely thawed, peel and devein them, if necessary, season them up with our chipotle chili powder and cayenne pepper-based seasoning blend for good spicy zing (see recipe card), and then marinate them for at least 15 minutes (2 hours max).
That Salad Lady generally skewers her shrimp and grills them on either a grill or grill pan. To do this, simply heat the grill or pan over medium high heat and cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side until the color is pink and the shrimp are opaque. That’s it! You can also sauté the shrimp in a regular pan if that’s easier. If using larger shrimp, we suggest slicing them crosswise into bite-sized pieces. You can do this with either kitchen shears or a sharp knife.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
The red and poblano peppers and green onions are the only ingredients that require chopping. We suggest chopping the peppers into bite-sized pieces and thinly slicing the onions on a diagonal. That’s it!
Once the fresh and cooked ingredients are all prepped, all that’s left is the chipotle sauce. If using a blender or food processor, just add all your ingredients and start mixing. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. If you don’t have a blender or a food processor, just combine and whisk all your ingredients together in a bowl.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
When you’re ready to eat or serve the salad, transfer the cooked corn to a large bowl, stir in half the creamy chipotle sauce and then add all other ingredients (except for the cheese, if using) and stir everything together for a nice, even distribution of colors (see recipe video). Stir in more chipotle sauce to taste.
Season the salad to taste with sprinkles of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Since cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes really amp up the heat, we suggest gradually adding these seasonings to taste.
You can serve this salad warm or let it chill in the fridge to serve cold. Once you’ve seasoned the salad to your liking, cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and allow it to sit or chill for about 10 minutes before eating or serving it. This gives the flavors time to come together. No need to worry about the ingredients getting soggy. In this case, marinating is a good thing.
Top off the salad with sprinkles of cheese and freshly chopped cilantro and you’re done. You can enjoy it as a stand-alone salad bowl, on a bed of greens or even in your favorite wrap. For a unique flavor twist and added nutrition, you can also add chopped avocado to each serving.
All put together, the Spicy Chipotle Elote Shrimp Salad is large enough for about eight servings. Depending on your eating style, you can double your portions and eat less meals or store it in the fridge and eat multiple bowls over the course of multiple days. In an airtight sealed container, leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.