Gather ’round, all you sweet and spicy lovers. This recipe is for you! This cold Mango Quinoa Salad is the most refreshing thing you can make this summer. It’s packed with fresh flavor and it’s great to make ahead of time.
In fact, I actually encourage you to make this ahead of time. Not only for a less stressful dinner, but because the longer it sits, the more the flavors marry together. And it’s sooooo tasty when it’s super cold- amazingly refreshing for these hot summer days, especially when paired with something hot and spicy!
We had this salad with blackened tilapia, which only took 10 minutes to make. That means when dinnertime came, I spent 10 minutes cooking, and about 15 seconds pulling this mango quinoa salad out of the fridge and plopping it onto the table with a spoon for serving.
I love those kinds of super fast dinners, especially when I know I’m serving super nutritious, healthy ingredients to my family in the process!
This salad is packed with healthy veggies (jalapeño pepper, fresh tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro), fruit (mango and lime), and whole grains (quinoa).
Actually, quinoa isn’t a whole grain.
Well, OK, I lied- not whole grains. Quinoa is actually a seed. But it has a lot of the same nutrition as other whole grains, and then some. Like other grains, it’s high in fiber. But unlike others, it’s high in protein, high in iron, and has a low glycemic index. It’s super hearty, and because it’s high in protein and iron, it’s a favorite ingredient for vegans, since many people get most of these nutrients from meat.
I love using tri-color quinoa. Not only is it more pretty, but it has a more of a crunchy texture and even contains a few more nutrients than regular white quinoa. You can use any kind of quinoa you want for this recipe.
Think you don’t like quinoa because it’s bitter? Here’s how to fix that.
While I love the texture and look of tri-color quinoa, and of course the nutritional punch that it packs, there is a downside: it can tend to be a little bitter. This is easily remedied by making sure that you flavor it substantially.
For this recipe, the quinoa is cooked in salted water. Similarly to pasta, the quinoa will absorb the salty flavor of the water while it cooks, helping to season it. Any time you cook quinoa, use salt. It makes all the difference in the world.
Oh- and give your quinoa a rinse under water before cooking. This helps with the flavor as well.
In addition to cooking it in salted water, the sweetness of the mango pairs so well with the flavor of the quinoa. I think adding something sweet to any quinoa dish- bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., helps balance the natural bitter flavor of the grain.
And there are SO many flavors happening in this dish- the sweet mango and tomatoes, the spicy jalapeño, the savory onion, and the fresh and bright cilantro and lime- you certainly won’t notice any bitterness from the quinoa. Promise! This mango quinoa salad is definitely the recipe to make if you think you don’t like quinoa.
If you play your cards right, this recipe only takes 25 minutes to throw together. And it’s SO EASY!
Here are some time saving tips.
Another pro about quinoa is its fast cooking time- it only takes about 15 minutes to cook, which is a short time for a whole grain. I like to let it sit in the hot pan, covered, for about 5 minutes after it finishes cooking. This makes it extra fluffy. But you can skip this step if you’re pressed for time.
While the quinoa cooks, prep the other ingredients and mix the dressing.
Whisk some lime juice and zest with some olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. This is one of my favorite tricks when making salads- make the dressing directly in the bowl you’ll mix the salad in. That way, you don’t get another bowl dirty.
Then, cut the tomatoes in half, dice the onion, chop the cilantro and jalapeño, and dice the mango.
And if you think mangos are a PITA to peel and dice… you’re right. BUT, I have a super easy trick to share with you. You can use a drinking glass to easily, quickly, and neatly peel the mango! Here’s a great video tutorial for how to do it.
After the quinoa is done cooking, give it a rinse under cold water until its completely cool, then shake as much of the water off as possible. Then, mix everything together in the bowl with the dressing and you’re done!
For a heartier vegan meal, try adding black beans to the salad.
Here’s the recipe for Mango Quinoa Salad! Enjoy :-)
Mango Quinoa Salad
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 large mango diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper seeded and finely diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- juice and zest of one lime
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- Rinse the quinoa in a mesh sieve until water runs clear. Transfer to a medium pot and cover with 1 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Turn off heat, allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Once the quinoa is cooked, rinse under cold water in a mesh sieve until completely cool. Shake off as much excess water as possible.
- Add the cooked quinoa, mango, tomatoes, jalapeño pepper, and onion to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.
- For best results, allow to refrigerate for 1 hour before serving to let the flavors marry.
- For a heartier meal: add black beans, chickpeas, chicken, or steak to the salad.
- Time saving tip: prep other ingredients while quinoa is cooking.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.