Apr 6, 2017

Mexican Corn Elote Grain Bowl

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Based off of one of my favorite sides – the classic Mexican street food, corn elote - this grain bowl includes quinoa, chicken thighs, arugula, cabbage, corn, queso fresco and roasted red pepper, all tossed with a cilantro-chili dressing.

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Grain bowls are usually my go-to weeknight dinner meals, everything can be prepped ahead of time and then tossed together just before serving. Based off of one of my favorite sides – the classic Mexican street food, corn elote – this grain bowl includes quinoa, chicken thighs, arugula, cabbage, corn, queso fresco and roasted red pepper, all tossed with a cilantro-chili dressing.

Typically, elote is served still on the cob, grilled, brushed with mayonnaise, cayenne, queso fresco or cotija and lime – perfect for summer days. Instead, this version uses raw corn for an added crunch (and this way it’s one less step for you to do).

Mexican Corn Elote Grain Bowl

roasted red pepper

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Corn – When buying ears corn, look for a bright green husk that is tight around the corn. Feel the kernels through the husk, they should be plump. (I like to peel back a section of the husk to double check the kernels.) Look at the tassel (the strings at the top), it should be yellow or light brown – it should have a sweet smell.
  • Quinoa – Quinoa is a whole grain cooked similar to rice. Try cooking quinoa in chicken broth for a more flavorful quinoa (though water can also be used). To cook quinoa follow these simple steps. In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring 2 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add 1 cup of quinoa, and cook covered on medium-low heat until the broth is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork.
  • Queso fresco – Queso fresco is a soft cow’s milk cheese used in Mexican dishes to balance spicy flavors. 
  • Arugula – The peppery greens complement the quinoa, chicken and crunchy cabbage in this bowl. While I love wild arugula, kale, baby kale or spinach can easily be used.
mexican corn elote grain bowl closeup

How to Make This Mexican Corn Elote Quinoa Bowl

For the dressing:

  1. Make the dressing. In a medium-mixing bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside.

For the grain bowl:

  1. Prep the chicken. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rub the chicken thighs with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper then arrange in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  2. Bake the chicken. Bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove and chop the chicken into 1” cubes then set aside.
  3. Char the red pepper. Heat the oven to broil. Rub the red pepper with the remaining olive oil then lay skin side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until the skin is browned and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  4. Flip and char the other side. Flip the red pepper over and continue to broil until lightly browned in patches, about an additional 3 minutes. Remove and dice the red pepper then set aside.
  5. Combine ingredients for the bowl. In a large mixing bowl toss the quinoa, arugula, cabbage, chicken, red pepper, cilantro, corn and avocado and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss to coat.
  6. Assemble and serve. Divide the salad among bowls and top with the queso fresco and sunflower seeds. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
grain bowl mexican corn summer

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • The dressing can be made ahead of time and shaken just before use to combine it again.
  • Substitute the raw corn for roasted corn for a smokier twist.
  • Use leftover or rotisserie chicken as a shortcut.
  • Omit the chicken and cook the quinoa in vegetable stock for a vegetarian bowl.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Mexican Corn Elote Grain Bowl

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the dressing:

  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the grain bowl:

  • 1 pound chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons, plus one teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper as needed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and halved, lengthwise
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 8 ounces wild arugula
  • 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
  • 2 medium ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
  • ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower kernels
  • 1 medium lime, cut into wedges

Instructions:

For the dressing:

  • In a medium-mixing bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside.

For the grain bowl:

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rub the chicken thighs with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper then arrange in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove and chop the chicken into 1” cubes then set aside.
  • Heat the oven to broil. Rub the red pepper with the remaining olive oil then lay skin side up on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until the skin is browned and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  • Flip the red pepper over and continue to broil until lightly browned in patches, about an additional 3 minutes. Remove and dice the red pepper then set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl toss the quinoa, arugula, cabbage, chicken, red pepper, cilantro, corn and avocado and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Divide the salad among bowls and top with the queso fresco and sunflower seeds. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

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