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This Instant Pot Mexican Corn Quinoa Salad Is the Perfect Side Dish

This quinoa salad is everything you love about elote (but healthier).

Mexican street corn, also known as elote, is a beloved street food in Mexico and parts of the United States. First it’s roasted on a grill, giving it that smoky taste and charred appearance. Then it’s loaded up with rich and buttery spreads like butter and crema fresca, chile powder, lime juice, and cotija (a traditional Mexican cheese). 

This goes without saying, but like most street foods, it’s not exactly the healthiest take on corn on the cob; however, it checks off all the right boxes for a delicious treat on the go.

This quinoa salad takes some of the basic elements of elote—the corn, cotija, and spices—and puts it in a hearty and nutritious salad. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain (well, technically it’s a seed) that is high in magnesium, zinc, iron, and folate, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 

Oh yeah, and the best part? This Mexican corn quinoa salad comes together in just a few minutes—literally, just a few—thanks to the Instant Pot.

Instant Pots are essentially pressure cookers, but they’ve been redesigned to be as versatile and user-friendly as ever. You can pressure cook, slow cook, saute, and more, all in one single appliance. Things that used to take a hefty chunk of time (like cooking quinoa) can now be accomplished in just a few minutes with these sleek machines.

Like all quinoa salads, this elote-inspired dish is great hot, cold, or at room temperature, so it’s perfect for packing for lunch or for potlucks and picnics. Bonus: It’s way less messy than actual elote, so you can eat it casually at your desk without bringing attention to yourself. 

This Mexican street corn quinoa salad is meant to be a side dish, but you can easily convert it to an entree with the addition of some protein, like black beans, chickpeas, seared or baked tofu, or roasted chicken. 

And finally, cotija can be difficult to find in some areas of the United States, so if you’re having trouble tracking it down, feel free to omit—or swap it with grated Parmesan, which is similarly dry, tangy, and crumbly.

Love Mexican food? Try these other Mexican-inspired dishes:

Recipe adapted from the American Heart Association Instant & Healthy Cookbook.

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 16 oz frozen corn
  • 1 jalapeño, deveined and diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 and 1/4 cups water
  • 2 medium green onions, sliced
  • 3 tbsp cotija cheese

Instructions

Add oil to the instant pot and heat on sauté mode. Add corn and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add quinoa, jalapeño, chili powder, salt, and water. Secure the lid of the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. When it finishes, immediately release the pressure valve. Once all pressure is released, you can open the lid and transfer quinoa salad to a serving dish. Stir in cilantro, green onions, and lime juice. Top with a sprinkle of cotija cheese and, if desired, more cilantro.
Duration: 1:16. Last Updated On: July 29, 2019, 7:14 p.m.
Reviewed by: Mera Goodman, MD . Review date: July 29, 2019

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves 8
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Amount Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories
154
7% Complete
7%
Fat
4g
6% Complete
6%
Cholesterol
3mg
1% Complete
1%
Sodium
127mg
5% Complete
5%
Carbohydrates
28g
28% Complete
28%
Fiber
3g
12% Complete
12%
Sugar
4g
8% Complete
8%
Protein
6g
11% Complete
11%
*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Lower Cholesterol
Lower Cholesterol
Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar
Heart Healthy
Heart Healthy
Gluten Free
Gluten Free
Vegetarian
Vegetarian
Lower Sodium
Lower Sodium
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