"Street corn — or elote — is more popular than ever," Rach says. "It's even become a popular theme for a seasonal salad bowl featured at Sweetgreen. Here's a mash-up of street corn, extra veggies and every kids' favorite — mac and cheese."
- 1 pound gluten-free corn pasta, such as penne, cavatappi, large shells or macaroni
- 2 large ears freshly grilled corn, or 2-2 ½ cups defrosted frozen fire-roasted corn kernels when fresh corn is out of season
- 1 medium firm yellow squash
- 1 medium firm zucchini
- 1 large jalapeño pepper, or 2 small
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 large cloves garlic, cracked from skins
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- ¾ cup milk
- ¾ cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (⅔ palmful)
- 2 teaspoons Aleppo chili or chili powder blend (⅔ palmful)
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (⅓ palmful)
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion (⅓ palmful)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (⅓ palmful)
- One 12-ounce bag shredded Monterey Jack or white cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 ounces cotija or queso fresco, crumbled
- Pickled mild or hot jalapeño pepper slices
- One handful cilantro or parsley, chopped
- 1 small lime, juiced
Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta (about 5-6 quarts). When pasta water comes to a boil, season with salt, drop pasta and cook 1 minute less than package directions. Drain and rinse to stop cooking process.
Place a small bowl inverted inside a large glass bowl and balance an ear of cooled, grilled corn on its end and scrape away kernels with a sharp knife, and repeat. The larger bowl will catch the kernels.
Halve squash and zucchini lengthwise and carefully scrape away the seeds and soft flesh with a small spoon into a garbage bowl. Halve squash and zucchini across, then slice into sticks, then chop into small dice.
Halve the jalapeño peppers and seed them for a milder flavor or leave the seeds and ribs intact for extra-spicy. Slice the peppers into thin strips, then finely chop the peppers.
Chop or thinly slice the scallions and separate the whites and the greens.
Heat a large nonstick deep or wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, 2 turns of the pan, melt butter into oil, and when it foams, add the squash, zucchini, jalapeño, corn, and scallion whites and cook to soften until squash is tender-crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Grate the peeled garlic with a handheld micro-grater or crush, then finely chop. Add garlic and scallion greens to squash and corn.
Preheat broiler with rack at center or turn oven to 500˚F.
For the Mexican cheese sauce, in a medium saucepot, melt the cream cheese into milk and stock over medium heat.
Meanwhile, combine spices in ramekin or small dish. Add about 2/3 of the dried spices to the cream cheese mixture in saucepot, stir in the shredded cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine pasta with squash and corn and the Mexican cheese sauce, then transfer to a casserole and top with cotija or fresco cheese and remaining spice blend. Brown and bubble the mac and cheese under broiler.
Top the casserole with jalapeño peppers, cilantro or parsley, and the juice of 1 lime.