This simple roasted chili corn salsa is barely spicy with a crunchy texture. Free of dairy and mayonnaise, it's the perfect appetizer for barbecues or any gathering. And it has only seven ingredients!
Enjoy it with corn chips! They scoop up this salsa perfectly.
Why this Recipe Rocks
When you're in the middle of corn season, it's time to take advantage of it! It's plentiful and inexpensive. I could have made summer meals for my family gatherings, like a quinoa salad or this bean and mango salad. But I was aiming for something more festive, where the star ingredient could shine.
While surfing the internet, I recently unearthed a popular recipe, a particular roasted chili corn salad. It's served by a Mexican-American restaurant chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill.
The dish caught my eye and made my mouth water.
It excited me enough to call me to drive to the restaurant to discover these new flavors.
But mission impossible.
The remote location nipped in the bud any desire to go 195 km away from home. Ottawa, Ontario, could forget about me. However, even if a perfect imitation was unlikely, nothing was lost. "If I can't go to Chipotle, I thought, I'll bring Chipotle to me." So I set about the task.
I didn't regret it. You got that right! This fresh salad makes your taste buds dance.
The corn is devilishly sweet, and the lips tingle, given the heat of the poblano and jalapeño peppers. Then the freshness of the lime juice arrives. The smoky taste of the roasted chili also pleases the palate. Keeping your fork from diving into the plate is challenging.
I can imagine eating this salsa with almost any plant-based protein (tofu, tempeh, or whatever), drenched in a plant-based mayonnaise or toast. Or maybe tomorrow, in a burrito bowl.
What Goes in it?
Notes on some ingredients
- Corn. The original recipe apparently called for frozen sweet white corn instead of yellow corn. In my opinion, the taste between the two doesn't really differ. So, I opted for shucking corn on the cob for freshness and liveliness. Ditch the canned corn. The salad just won't be as crispy.
- Poblano pepper. This Mexican ingredient can be found in Latin American markets or the international produce aisle. If nothing else, get an Anaheim peppers at the grocery store. Select whole poblano chilis in jars if you're short on time, don't have an oven or gas stove, and want something ultra-convenient.
- Red onion. Prefer this kind, as it brings color to the primarily yellow and green dish.
- Cilantro. It must be fresh.
- Lime juice. I highly recommend freshly squeezed lemon juice. Pre-bottled juices will not impart the same fresh flavor to the salsa.
Simple Substitutions and Add-ins
- Make the salad more kid-friendly. Substitute green bell peppers for the chili pepper.
- Add textural contrast with roasted corn. Spread corn kernels in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, stirring twice, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Pack the salsa with protein. Add 1 cup of black beans.
- Turn your salsa into a creamy corn salad. Coat the salad with plant-based mayonnaise. In a high-speed blender, blend ¼ cup cashews with ½ cup water, 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth. Add the cream to the corn salsa recipe below, stir to combine, and sprinkle optionally with ¾ cup of vegan cheese.
- Prefer parsley to cilantro. That's if you just don't have any or you're one of the super tasters who find that this aromatic herb tastes like soap.
- Bring up the heat. Leave the seeds and membranes in the jalapeño peppers or replace them outright with serrano peppers.
Special Diets Corner
If you have food intolerances, here are some ideas to make this dish...
- Low-FODMAP vegan. Remove the red onion or add asafoetida for flavor.
How to Make this Homemade Roasted Chili Corn Salsa Step by Step
This recipe has two steps.
Step 1: Roast the poblano pepper
Fear of failure overcame me, and I dreaded roasting chilis for fear of burning them. That's because the name Naïby-who-burns-everything precedes me (thanks, little brother 😅). Yes, it may sound intimidating, but it's as easy as pie. Really!
You can have roasted poblanos in three different ways:
- On an open-flame gas stove;
- On a charcoal grill;
- Under the broiler.
A. On an open-flame gas stove or charcoal grill
The fastest way to do this is directly on the stove over an open flame. When cooking on a charcoal grill, you must think about what is needed to start it. Other than that, the method is the same. You have to be careful, however, not to burn yourself and not to let the poblano pepper burst and smoke when the skin starts to blister.
Turn the flame on a gas stove to HIGH. Using tongs, place the poblano directly over the flame until the skin is charred and blistered ① turning it occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes (aluminum foil is fine too). Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap ② place in a resealable bag for 10 to 12 minutes. Scrub and discard the blackened skin ③. Lay the bell pepper flat, cut off the stem, remove the seeds and membranes, and finely chop ④.
B. Under the broiler
Place peppers on a baking sheet directly under the broiler. Place on the oven rack at the highest level. This way, the chili is as close to the broiler as possible.
Cook and blister the chili under the broiler for 3 to 7 minutes or until the skin is sufficiently charred and blistered. Gently remove the chili, turn them over and repeat the process until the entire chili is charred. The time required will vary considerably depending on your oven type.
Then, prepare it according to the previous instructions.
Step 2: Prepare the corn.
With the corn on the cob ⑤, although it is possible to keep the kernels raw, I cook them. Then I let them cool long enough to handle with my bare hands. As soon as they are ready, I shuck them by placing each ear of corn upright on a rimmed plate and loosening, "shaving," so to speak, the kernels with a knife.
With frozen corn kernels, you'll need to cook them according to package directions, then spread them out on a baking sheet to cool.
Keys to success: my best tips
Limit the heat.
Removing the seeds and ribs is the best way to reduce heat in chilies.
Limit the heat further to avoid damage.
When preparing chilis at home, wear gloves if you're not used to chopping them! The capsaicin in the peppers and the chili oils, especially the jalapeños, can transfer to your skin or areas that are sensitive to touch and cause a burning sensation.
Pay extra attention to citrus juice.
Be sure to use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. There is no comparable substitute!
The size of the ingredients is more than a detail.
Cut ingredients finely! Large chunks will disrupt the balance of flavors.
The real good is in resting the feast.
Let your salsa rest for at least an hour before serving so the flavors can meld.
The essential equipment
- Chef's knife, 8". I can't live without my dimpled Japanese knife. It's my arm extension (that's how you should feel).
- Citrus reamer. I have a citrus press that is a nice sturdy one with a handle. I love it. But something made of glass or wood is excellent too. Or, just use the fork and scoop the seeds by putting your hand underneath.
- Measuring cup.
- Measuring spoons.
What to Serve this Dish with
This sweet corn salsa makes a great side dish and is good with:
- Plant-based protein (tofu, tempeh, or other);
- Tortilla or corn chips;
- Burrito bowl (imagine a burrito that has been torn open. Its filling ingredients are placed in a bowl) ;
- Tacos or taco salads;
- A plate of nachos.
Answers to your Burning Questions
No, the chili corn salsa is not. Poblano chilis rank pretty low on the Scoville scale (the standard for measuring the heat of various chili peppers), so they're very mild. It can be mellowed further by omitting the diced jalapeño.
This salsa is meant to be served cold!
Both work. If fresh, the kernels can be removed from the corn cob, whether raw or cooked. If frozen, let them thaw in a colander for about 30 minutes, shaking it a few times. Then cook them according to package directions and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool. If it simplifies things, note that 300-350 g (10-12 oz) beans are needed for a single batch.
Of course, you can! It will give a sweeter taste to the salsa. You can also make a mixture of the two.
Absolutely. Like any other pepper, poblano peppers can be eaten raw or cooked in many meals. They don't need to be roasted, although they are more delicious roasted.
How to store this dish
This salsa will last in the fridge for 3-5 days, but I recommend serving it during the day for better flavor and for a brighter color of the poblano pepper.
Make this Dish Now
Late summer calls for corn for a festive recipe. Since it's plentiful, you might as well take advantage of it. This homemade salsa is a Chipotle copycat and has only simple ingredients. If poblano peppers are new to you, discover this not-so-hot vegetable. Don't be afraid to roast the pepper. It's no more complicated than you think.
Salsa means fresh ingredients, so make sure they are.
You'll love the tons of fresh flavor that this fresh salsa brings to your mouth. It's sweet, juicy, spicy, smoky, tangy.
Leaving any leftovers will be unthinkable after the first bite.
See How it's Done
Watch the recap with the Roasted Chilli Corn Salsa Web Story. It's done in a flash!
Or take the time to make it your own with the video below.
[Video to come]
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Roasted Chili Corn Salsa
- Chef's knife, 8".
- Citrus juice squeezer.
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons.
- 2 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen (Notes)
- 1 large poblano pepper roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced (or 2 medium)
- ½ cup red onion diced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (Notes)
- ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste (Notes)
- Tortilla chips to serve
- Cook corn according to package instructions. Spread on a baking sheet to cool.
- In a large bowl, add cooled corn, red onion, jalapeño peppers, poblano pepper, cilantro, lemon juice, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and serve with tortilla chips, burrito bowls, and tacos.
- Let the fresh salsa sit for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
- This corn and roasted chili salsa will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. However, serving it during the day is recommended for the poblano pepper's better flavor and brighter color.
- Cooked corn: Bring a large pot of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil over high heat. Add two ears of corn to make 2 cups and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Then plunge the cobs into a large bowl of ice water. When the corn is cool enough to handle, loosen the kernels with a knife—"shaving" it, so to speak—and transfer the kernels to a large bowl.
- Frozen corn: Frozen kernels work just fine. Let them thaw in a colander for about 30 minutes, shaking it several times. Then cook them according to package directions and spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet to cool. Whether cooked or raw, this recipe can be made at any time of the year. Note that you'll need 300 g to 350 g (10 to 12 ounces) beans for a single batch.
- Jalapeño peppers: the best way to reduce the heat of the peppers is to remove the seeds and ribs. Caution. Wear gloves if you're not used to handling them!
- Chop the ingredients finely! Large chunks will disrupt the balance of flavors.
- Lime: Be sure to use fresh, freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. There is no substitute for it!
- Salt: note that the saltiness changes depending on the type of salt. I use kosher salt in all my recipes, but be aware that Morton Kosher Salt is twice as salty as the previous kosher salt. Also, the lemon juice enhances the salt enough that you don't need to use a ton of it.
- Roasted Chilli and Roasted Corn Salsa. Spread corn kernels in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, stirring twice, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Roasted Chili Corn Salsa with vegan mayo. Drench the salad with vegan mayonnaise. In a high-speed blender, blend ¼ cup cashews with ½ cup water, 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice, 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste until smooth. Add the cream to the corn salsa recipe below, stir to combine, and sprinkle optionally with ¾ cup of veggie cheese.
- Black bean and roasted chili corn salsa. Add 1 cup of black beans.
- Spicy roasted chili corn salsa. Leave seeds and membranes in jalapeños or substitute serrano peppers for jalapeños.
- More kid-friendly. Substitute green bell pepper for the jalapeño.
- Roasted chili corn salsa without cilantro. Substitute fresh parsley for cilantro.
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