Tacos with Grilled Poblano & Corn Salad

tacos with grilled poblano salsa

Over the weekend I received the best kind of email. It not only came from an individual, living, real person, but also from a friend. She had written to tell me about her new favorite thing to eat, a salad of marinated fennel, burrata, and mint. She also casually mentioned she had made a grilled poblano, corn-off-the-cob and cotija cheese salad to serve aside some grilled New York Strips.

I still haven’t made the fennel, which sounds utterly delicious, but I can’t find enough uses for this grilled poblano salad. On its own, as my friend made it, sprinkled with cotija cheese, the sweet, smokey, charred vegetables combine to make a wonderful summer salad.

Add a cup of cooked quinoa or farro or whatever grain you’re into at the moment, and this delicate combination becomes a little hardier, almost a meal in itself.

And when you change the dressing ever so slightly by upping the lime juice and the hot sauce, the salad becomes more of a salsa, an irresistible addition to any summer taco — grilled steak, chicken, fish, whatever.

I served this salsa with grilled, diced New York Strip steak, but skirt, hanger or flank would be really nice, too. And while meat, especially with occasions like Father’s Day in mind, feels like a must, with this salsa on the table, I find myself forgetting the meat altogether, loading up tortilla after tortilla with as much salsa as each can bear, piling on diced avocado and dollops of sour cream. Never have tacos disappeared so quickly.


grilling the vegetables

grilled vegetables

ready to be tossed

grilled corn salsa

Steak Tacos with Grilled Poblanos Salad/Salsa & Cotija Cheese


This salad/salsa would well with any number of grilled or roasted meats: chicken, steak, pork, etc. You can make it more like a salsa by increasing the lime juice. You can make it more like a salad, by using more olive oil. It can be made into a lovely grain salad by adding a cup of farro or quinoa or bulgur or any grain you like. You will likely need to add more olive oil to taste. And while it is a nice addition to any sort of taco, it makes a wonderful vegetarian taco, too — just add a little more cheese, maybe an avocado, maybe a spoonful of sour cream, whatever you like.

Cotija is a dry, crumbly, salty Mexican cheese. If you can't find it, a mild feta will work, though I might just go with something like Monterey Jack or even cheddar.

I used one New York Strip for the two of us, but skirt steak or flank or flap or hanger would be really nice here, too.


  • 2 to 3 poblano peppers
  • 2 to 3 red onions, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
  • 2 to 3 ears of corn, shucked
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 1 to 2 limes
  • hot sauce or red pepper flakes
  • cilantro to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • tortillas (for serving)
  • cotija cheese or Monterey Jack or cheddar — whatever you like
  • steak — New York Strip, skirt, flank, hanger, whatever you like
  • sour cream for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Place poblanos, corn and red onions on a large sheetpan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill until each vegetable has a nice char. You most likely will need to remove the corn first (you don't want to over do the corn, and it just needs a little color); the onions should be somewhat soft and charred as well; the poblanos need the most time on the grill and should be charred all around — don't be impatient here.
  3. Transfer poblanos to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a plate to create as much of an airtight seal as possible. Meanwhile, chop the red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Remove the corn from the cob using a sharp knife and add to bowl. Chop the scallions finely and add to bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the juice of one lime. Add hot sauce or red pepper flakes to taste.
  4. When poblanos have cooled completely or when they are cool enough to handle, massage the skins off, and remove seeds and stem — this is kind of a pain, but just push through it. Give them a nice chop and add to the bowl. Chop up cilantro to taste and add to bowl. Give it a stir. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. I added 1/4 teaspoon of sugar, the juice of another lime, and a pinch more salt.
  5. If grilling steaks for tacos, preheat the grill to high, season steak with salt and pepper and grill to desired doneness — 5 minutes total for a 1-inch New York Strip produced a nice medium rare steak. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
  6. While the steaks are resting, turn off the grill, throw the tortillas on the grates, grill on one side only until warm and marked with grill lines. Wrap in foil to keep warm.

One New York Strip provided plenty of taco meat for the two of us, but skirt steak or hanger steak or chicken would all work nicely:
grilled strip

Corn thief:
wren, eating corn


  1. says

    I literally read this post, changed my grocery list and had to go make myself lunch early. Darn those look good (except the steak – stupid vegetarians!) Thanks!!!

    • says

      I love it! And not stupid at all! I think — think — I could be a vegetarian if my husband were not around. But I might miss bacon too much. Burgers, too. Hmmm. I’m hopeless.

      • Meg says

        UGH missing bacon is totally the worst. There is no fake-bacon substitute that gives that fatty crunch over a cobb salad or even comes close! Burgers were the first thing I let go of eating (not because I don’t love them, but affording ones I approve of is out of control – plus if I bought a “happy cow” and ground the meat myself, where would my cat and I fit into my small small apartment?)

        • says

          Haha, I bet! And I hear you — I can’t find grass-fed ground beef for less than $6/pound. We haven’t done the cow-in-the-freezer thing since we moved, but we are really missing it. I need to get on that.

  2. Laura in Sonoma says

    So glad you enjoyed it Ali! Thanks for the shout out… I’m going to try it with your additions. That’s what I love about your blog, you take regular stuff and make it even better.

    One fun thing to do with the corn is serve it on a opened grilled poblano (seeded, peeled) It looks really great and adds a bit more pepper to the dish.

    The foto of your little one is one of the best I’ve ever seen… what a face!

    • says

      Oh Laura, that sounds so pretty! I will try that next time. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions. I made the dressing for that fennel salad last night using thinly sliced turnips and radishes from my CSA — you are so right about the flavors: light, fresh, delicious. The mint is so nice. I didn’t have any burrata, but I could see how nice it would be with a loaf of bread and a glass of wine. Could eat that for dinner all summer long. Yum!

  3. Liz says

    I made these tonight for dinner and love the flavor combination. At first, I was tempted to use the broiler but am so happy I decided to use the grill. Even a gas grill emparts that subtle smokey flavor that elevates the flavors. This is a wonderful combination–I added a big bunch of cilantro and one avocado–one that was maybe a touch under-ripe, but I think better for the purposes of the salad/salsa. I did make steak, but this would make a wonderful salad on its own or filling for the tortillas. I just realize that I forgot to add the cheese–how could I! But even without cheese they were delicious. Now I have an excuse to make this again soon. So fresh and light. Great recipe. Thank you.

    • says

      Wonderful to hear this, Liz! I almost did the same thing with the peppers, but figured I was going to have the grill on anyway, so may as well just grill everything. And while the cheese is good, the salsa/salad is so good on its own — totally see how you could have forgotten it :)

  4. says

    That photo of Wren! She is just the cutest corn thief! Oh. Her thighs are too much :)

    These tacos sound lovely! Summer corn is one of my favorite things about this season! Along with smokey poblanos and cheese, yes please! Such good dinner ideas when I come here (including a ping-back to your Farmer’s Market Quesdaillas — yum)!

    • says

      Thank you, Sophie! I am so happy to be at the grill again…speaking of grilling, that citrus on your blog looked beautiful! Need to go take a look. And I know, Wren’s thighs. I could munch on them :)

  5. lindsay says

    Ooh Ali, this was good! We had it on our porch while looking at the setting sun — you’ve got to come back some time between now and August 4th, when we demo the place and start building! It is gorgeous at the moment!

    However, next time I’ll plan to get the poblanos – made this with chili peppers and whew! It even made my Oaxacan-born boy blush! 😉 xo

    • says

      Lindsay, I do need to come back! I was thinking of you as we cruised through town on Sunday, passing Fiddleheads and Folinos, wishing we had more time to stop and see you! We will be back soon.

      And wow, grilled chili peppers sound so good but I am sure it had quite a kick! You both are brave! So exciting about the demo. We definitely need to get up there soon. There is no place like Vermont in the summer.

  6. rebecca says

    Ali, Amanda and I had my parents up this past weekend. We made this for Father’s Day, and it was delicious. My mom, who is also a huge fan of yours, suggested we make it. Even R loved it!

    I also just bought bowls for your peasant bread recipe, which I can’t wait to try.

    • says

      Rebecca, I’m so happy to hear this! And you have an amazing little eater on your hands! How nice. Wren loves this one, too, but the older ones take a little more convincing. They did actually like this one, however, which was a surprise. And I’m so happy to hear this about your mother — is it she who makes the potatoes using the boiling method I describe on the fingerlings post? I think I remember Amanda telling me this at some point. And yay for peasant bread! let me know if you have any questions. I make a batch every other day. Big hugs!

  7. Kate says

    This looks delicious! Quick question – how many does this serve? Will also have grilled chicken and tofu as well, but doing a BBQ for 7 tomorrow and wondering if I need to double this? Or triple it? Thanks! Oh and I made the chard fritters last night – they were wonderful. I had way too much curly leaf kale in the fridge and they were a perfect vehicle.

    • says

      Hi Kate! I would double it for sure. It sounds as though you will have lots of yummy options on hand, so I don’t think you need to triple it. Fun! And hooray for making the chard fritters – I think I will be using that formula a lot this summer on CSA-pickup eves…I am already completely bombarded by greens!

  8. Kat says

    This recipe is awesome! I’ve made two batches in the past four days. Instead of cojita, (couldn’t find it), I used Iberico (similar to Manchego) and the results were phenom! We piled up Trader Joe’s Corn and Wheat tortillas, and a little avocado. So deeply satisfying, and an easy-peasy packable lunch.

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