Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Mango and Avocado
This Southwest Quinoa Salad with black beans, mango and avocado is a delicious side salad for potlucks, parties and summertime picnics. The cumin, lime and cilantro dressing is flavorful and bright and pairs so well with the quinoa and fresh, healthy ingredients! This recipe is hearty enough to serve as a vegan main course for dinner or lunch.
I originally shared this salad on April 22, 2016. I have updated the photos and text to share it with you again today. The recipe remains unchanged.
Table of contents
- Why We Love This Recipe For Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Ingredients For This Recipe
- How To Make This Southwest Black Bean, Quinoa and Mango Salad
- FAQs and Expert Tips
- More Quinoa Recipes To Try
Why We Love This Recipe For Southwest Quinoa Salad
One of my favorite ways to eat in the summer is to make a big batch of a hearty and healthy salad, and then throw something on the grill. It’s such an easy way of planning our dinner menus and I love that a lot of the work can be done in advance to fit my schedule. As an added bonus, I try to plan it so there is enough leftover salad for lunches too. It’s a win win!
Some favorite salads I make regularly include my Chickpea Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing, this hearty Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and this Mexican Four Bean Salad. And of course there’s also this Southwest Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango that I have been making for years! It never disappoints.
The zippy lime dressing with cumin and cilantro complements the sweet mango, creamy avocado and earthy black beans. What’s more, the nourishing and satisfying quinoa serves as the perfect backdrop for the salad. Not only is quinoa considered a superfood, but it is high in fiber and protein! This means that this salad, while it is vegan, is hearty enough to serve as a main course.
And I should also say, this Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad recipe is a big hit at cookouts, potlucks and backyard picnics. I love serving it because it is not only gluten-free but also plant-based, so pretty much everyone can enjoy it!
Ingredients For This Recipe
You can use either white quinoa or red quinoa (or a blend.) Start with raw dry quinoa and rinse it. Unless the package says that it is pre-rinsed it is best to rinse it first to remove any residue that will taste bitter. To do so, place it in a fine-mesh sieve and let cool water run through it for a minute or two. Once the bubbles subside it is cleaned off.
Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice and Olive Oil
Because this salad has a Southwestern and Mexican theme to it, I chose lime juice as the acid for the dressing. Taking the time to juice the lime from fresh makes a big flavor difference. I also used olive oil because it has heart-healthy fats and its fresh flavor goes so well in the dressing.
Seasonings: Cumin, Garlic and Salt
To add earthy Southwest flavor to the dressing I also added in ground cumin. It really compliments and brings out the nutty flavor in the quinoa.
I salted the dressing heavily to make it easier. So no need to salt the quinoa as it cooks.
I use grated garlic for the dressing for this salad. I like the way it melts into the dressing and doesn’t leave any big chunks.
Canned or Cooked Black Beans
For ease, I like to use canned beans. Just make sure to drain them and rinse them clean. You can also use 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans if you like to cook beans from dry.
The mango makes this salad so special. Peel it with a vegetable peeler and cut the mango into cubes.
Red bell pepper
For more texture and color, I added in chopped red bell peppers. Feel free to choose another pepper color if you do not like red pepper.
For fresh spicy taste, I also added in a fresh jalapeño pepper. If you do not like spicy food, eliminate the seeds, or you can omit the chile altogether. If you can’t find/ don’t have a jalapeño, sub in a pinch or two of cayenne or chipotle chile powder.
Cilantro and Mint
I adore cilantro and love adding it into Mexican-influenced recipes. I love the fresh taste it adds to this salad. If you do not like it, skip it. No need to sub in another herb.
A little bit of mint goes a long way in this recipe. Just 1/4 cup adds a unique flavor that is a fun combination with the mango and cilantro.
The avocado adds healthy fat, creamy texture and richness to this otherwise texturally rustic and brightly seasoned salad.
How To Make This Southwest Black Bean, Quinoa and Mango Salad
Step 1: Cook Quinoa
Bring quinoa and cold water to a boil in a medium saucepan, cover, reduce heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the germ has burst and the water is absorbed 16 to 20 minutes.
Step 2: Make Dressing
Meanwhile, whisk garlic, oil, lime, cumin and salt in a large bowl.
Step 3: Cool the Hot Quinoa in the Dressing
Scrape hot quinoa into the lime dressing, and stir to combine. Let cool at least 10 minutes or covered in the refrigerator overnight.
Step 4: Stir Salad Together
Add beans, mango, red pepper, jalapeno, cilantro and mint to the quinoa and stir to combine. Add the avocado and gently stir it in. Serve at room temperature for the best flavor. Or if you prefer cold quinoa salad refrigerate it until it is cold.
FAQs and Expert Tips
Yes! Quinoa salad is high in fiber and plant-based protein. It is nutrient-dense and is a source of essential amino acids, magnesium, potassium, and folate. Additionally, the ingredients in this Black Bean Quinoa Salad are highly nutritious as well. The bell pepper supplies vitamin C, and the mango has Vitamin A, C and K to name a few nutritional benefits! Note that most quinoa salads are calorie-dense so stay with the recommended portion size.
Quinoa should be rinsed because it has a naturally occurring soap-like coating on it. This is nature’s way of protecting the quinoa seeds while growing on the plant! It tastes unpleasant, but can easily be washed away. Many pre-rinsed quinoas are on the market now. Check your packaging to see if your quinoa is rinsed. If not, place the uncooked quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and run cool water over it until the bubbles subside. Then transfer it to the pot to cook it as directed.
What Goes With Quinoa Salad?
- This Vegan Southwest Quinoa Salad can work as a lunch all on its own, but it would also be great as a side dish with this Island Chicken Marinade, also known as The Best Chicken Marinade!
- For a potluck or barbecue, throw some Sirloin Steak on the grill and make Chimichurri Sauce to go with it.
- If you want a fun appetizer, make one of these fruit salsas or my Pico de gallo recipe and serve with tortilla chips!
- Another grilled recipe that would be nice with this is these shrimp kebabs or this grilled pork tenderloin.
Make-Ahead and Meal Prep Tips
This recipe is good for three days. The avocado does turn brown so if you are making it ahead, I suggest adding the avocado at the last minute. Keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Variations To Try
- Instead of Mango, use 1 1/2 cups sweet corn kernels and substitute grape tomatoes for the bell pepper. Omit the mint.
- For an added flavor boost, cook the quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water.
- Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds for additional crunch.
- Omit the garlic and add chopped green onions, diced red onion or scallions instead.
More Quinoa Recipes To Try
- This Mexican Quinoa and Turkey Stuffed Bell Pepper recipe is great for weeknight dinners.
- This Vegetarian Quinoa Thanksgiving Pilaf with pumpkin is a great plant-based side dish for the holidays.
- Our Gluten-free Quinoa Stuffing makes a great alternative to traditional Thanksgiving stuffing.
- Our Chicken Quinoa Soup is a healthy alternative to chicken noodle.
- This turkey chili has quinoa in it too!
- Try adding quinoa to your next power bowl, like this Chicken and Quinoa Bowl with Peanut Sauce. I also love these vegetarian quinoa and lentil bowls with lemon and coriander.
- This warm Quinoa and Arugula salad is a nice one pot vegan meal.
- Here is a basic side: Meyer Lemon Quinoa Pilaf with Almond, but it is anything but boring!
- Have you ever tried stuffed acorn squash? These Mexican Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa are a comforting and delicious vegetarian dinner.
- And there are more ideas here in my round-up of Healthy Quinoa Recipes.
Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~KatiePrint
This Southwest Quinoa Salad with black beans, mango and avocado is a delicious side salad for potlucks, parties and summertime picnics. The cumin, lime and cilantro dressing is flavorful and bright and pairs so well with the quinoa and fresh ingredients! This recipe is hearty enough to serve as a vegan main course for dinner or lunch.
- 1 ½ cup dry quinoa, rinsed if necessary
- 3 cups water
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and grated with a rasp-style grater
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced, some seeds included for heat to taste
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, cover, reduce heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the germ has burst and the water is absorbed 16 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk garlic, oil, lime, cumin and salt in a large bowl.
- Scrape hot quinoa into the lime dressing, and stir to combine. Let cool at least 10 minutes or covered in the refrigerator overnight.
- Add beans, mango, red pepper, jalapeno, cilantro and mint to the quinoa and stir to combine. Add the avocado and gently stir it in. Serve warm or refrigerate up to three days.
This recipe is good for three days. The avocado does turn brown so if you are making it ahead, I suggest adding the avocado at the last minute.
Keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Serving Size: 1 generous cup
- Calories: 226
- Sugar: 7 g
- Fat: 17 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 4 g