20-minute summer squash and corn fiesta salad with chili-lime vinaigrette, Cotija cheese, and cilantro. Simple, crunchy, and wildly flavorful—the perfect side for both weeknight dinners or weekend cookouts. Bright and light, this fiesta of a salad will go with everything else at your next summer BBQ. It’s the perfect contrast to heavy meat dishes, and will appeal to both kiddos and adults.
An oil-and-lime dressing keeps it light, and the spiciness from the chili flakes is a delicious counterpart to sweet notes in the corn and squash. If serving to kids, feel free to scale back on the chili flakes or omit them entirely. Fire roasted corn offers wonderful charred flavor, which complements its natural sweetness.
There are three options here when it comes to the corn: If you already have the grill fired up, throw fresh ears of corn straight on the grill grates to achieve the ultimate charred, smoky flavor. Otherwise, you can skip the grill, and char ears of corn directly over the flame of gas burners over high heat. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, turning cobs with tongs until evenly charred. The third (and most convenient) option is using frozen fire roasted corn. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but Whole Foods 365 brand also offers a great one. This salad is also a great excuse to use up the abundance of summer squash you likely have on hand. Cutting the squash into rather thick slices helps it retain a bit of fresh snap after it’s sautéed.
Whether served warm, chilled, or at room temperature, this fresh summer side is the perfect accompaniment to your next cookout. Top it with a salty Mexican cheese (Cotija or queso fresco), diced tomatoes, and a shower of fresh cilantro and get the fiesta started!
- 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
- 2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
- 2 medium yellow squashes, halved lengthwise and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
- ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 2½ cups frozen fire-roasted corn, thawed*
- 1 tsp. lime zest, plus 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 3 Tbsp. fresh Cotija cheese or queso fresco, crumbled
- Heat ½ Tablespoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add zucchini and squash; season with ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until golden-brown and tender. Stir in corn, cook 1 to 2 minutes, until heated through. Transfer to a bowl.
- Combine remaining 1½ Tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, lime zest and juice, garlic, chili powder, and red pepper flakes; stir with a whisk. Pour dressing in bowl with squash mixture. Add cilantro and toss to combine. Sprinkle cheese overtop. Garnish with additional cilantro and chopped tomatoes, if desired.