LJ carried a glass of lemonade in each hand as he entered Annie’s office, where she was typing furiously on her laptop.

“Hey, babe. How’s your work going?

Annie glanced up with a smile, it’s fine, but I need to finish this article for tomorrow, today. The deadline is looming.”

“You’ve been sitting for hours. Have you been standing periodically and stretching?” LJ set the glasses on her desk and wrapped his arms around her from behind.

“You’re right.” Annie stood and stretched her arms over her head, turned, and put them around LJ’s neck. “Thanks for the lemonade.”

“Of course.” He hugged her and whispered, “If you accept it, your mission is to accompany me to this evening’s first Friday Street Fair to taste the top elite-inspired pasta salads. There will be dozens of Mexican food trucks, all competing to be recognized as the top elote producer in town.

“Really? That sounds fun. What exactly is elote?”

Elote is a delicious street food from Mexico that takes corn on the cob to a whole new level of flavor. Imagine a juicy ear of grilled corn slathered with a creamy sauce of mayonnaise, lime, and garlic, then sprinkled with crumbled cheese and chili powder. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, spicy, and cheesy all at once.

“That sounds delish, and I love corn, so I accept your challenge and will go to the street fair with you.”

“Great. I have six elote-inspired salads I want to taste test. Each uses different kinds of pasta, corn, and various summer veggies, like avocado, bell peppers, tomatoes, and artichokes, and different cheeses, such as cotija, feta, and mozzarella, and mixed with pesto, salsa, tahini, or some other sauces.

“Wow, I’m starting to feel hungry. Why are you so interested in these salads.?”

LJ laughed. I’m starting to feel hungry too. These salads are easy to meal prep, and on a hot summer day, when you don’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking but also want something to enjoy, they are the answer. You can cook the pasta and the veggies ahead of time and store them in the fridge or freezer. Then, when you are ready, just toss them with the sauce and cheese you choose and enjoy.”

“That makes sense, plus I like the idea of customizing the ingredients to create different combinations. What are the six salads you want to taste?”

LJ sipped his lemonade. “The first one we are tasting is a Vegan Elote Pasta salad. It’s super simple to prepare and packed with tons of fresh corn kernels and jalapenos. The dressing is made with creamy mayo, lime juice, salt, and pepper, which makes the dish tangy, spicy, and refreshing.

That sounds like a savory way for vegans to enjoy elote.”

“I hope so. It also includes marinated tofu. Including that protein makes it a complete meal,” said LJ. “The next dish I want to try is Elote-Inspired Pasta Salad. This zesty pasta salad draws inspiration from the flavors of elote and uses small whole-wheat pasta such as rotini or elbows, fresh corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, cotija cheese, sour cream, mayo, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. It’s creamy, tangy, spicy, and refreshing.

Now this next Elote Inspired Pasta Salad is slightly different and uses mayo, lime juice, chili powder or cayenne pepper, grilled corn (off the cob), diced red onion, diced fresh jalapeno, cotija cheese, and your choice of pasta. It’s crunchy, spicy, and satisfying.

Mexican Corn Pasta Salad is another one I’m eager to taste. It uses rotini pasta, fresh or frozen corn kernels (thawed), red onion, cilantro leaves, and tender stems (chopped), cotija cheese (crumbled), mayo (or Greek yogurt), lime juice (freshly squeezed), chili powder (or Tajin seasoning), kosher salt (to taste), black pepper (to taste), and avocado (diced). It’s rich, creamy, and flavorful.”

Annie read over his shoulder and pointed. “I want to try this Creamy Elote Pasta Salad.”

“Yes, This Creamy Elote Pasta Salad recipe is mainly corn and super simple to make. Mixing it with cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, chili powder, and lime juice makes it decadent, savory, cheesy, and indulgent.

This Elote Mexican Corn Pasta Salad might be the last one on the list, but we’re not missing it. Its basis is bow tie pasta followed by avocados, peppers, cotija cheese, grilled corn, and that creamy crema dressing which amps this dish up to I-gotta-have-it status.”

“Okay, give me an hour to wrap up this article. Let’s plan to go right to the Mexican food trucks, taste these six, and rate them based on flavor, texture, presentation, and creativity. Then I’ll write an article about our experience and include a shout-out for the best one.”

“You got it. I’ll grab our water bottles and meet you in the garage. It’s too hot to walk.”


Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

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