Steak and Corn Salad With Tomatillos and Ancho-Chili Vinaigrette Recipe

Steak, tomatillo, and corn salad. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

This all-in-one meal in a salad is perfect for those late summer or early fall evenings. Sweet corn and spice-rubbed flank steak along with bright, crunchy raw tomatillos are tossed in a lime and olive oil vinaigrette with a hint of spicy chili and salty cotija cheese.

Why this recipe works:

  • A garlic and chili rub for the steak doubles as the flavorful base of the lime juice and olive oil vinaigrette.
  • Charring the corn in the same skillet as you cook the steak allows it to get some sweet, nutty char while the steak cools enough to slice it.
  • Crunchy, acidic tomatillos provide a great counterbalance to the rich flavor of the steak and sweetness of the corn.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 1 pound skirt, hanger, flank, or strip steak, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 ears)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion (about 1/2 of a medium onion)
  • 4 small tomatillos, split in half and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small serrano chili, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese


  1. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Rub with half of chili powder, half of garlic, and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Set aside.

  2. Combine remaining chili powder, remaining garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, and lime juice in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil and the butter in a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat, swirling, until butter has started to brown. Add steak and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned and center registers 120°F on an instant read thermometer, about 6 minutes, turning down heat if butter is smoking excessively. Transfer meat to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

  4. Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Heat remaining tablespoon oil over high heat until lightly smoking. Add corn and cook without moving until well charred on first side, about 2 minutes. Scrape up charred corn from bottom of pan with a stiff spatula, toss, and char again. Repeat until corn is well charred on multiple surfaces, about 10 minutes total.

  5. Transfer corn to bowl with dressing and allow to cool slightly. Thinly slice beef against the grain and add to bowl with corn. Add onion, tomatillos, sliced chili, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Toss to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

Large cast iron or stainless steel skillet

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