This salad has its roots in a salsa. Trader Joe's used to carry a mango-black bean salsa that I thought was the best on the planet; I used to eat it right from the jar. They stopped making it for a while, and that's when I began improvising and making it myself. At one point it hit me: Can't I make this a meal? So here we are. I've added other things I can't do without, like onions and avocado. You can certainly omit roasting the onions, but try it at least once with them roasted – the flavor really adds to this dish. The sweetness of the onions and mango plays well with the dressing.
In the summer I switch it up a little and grill the components (onion, mango and avocado), and sometimes add grilled corn.
I'm not a huge fan of heat in my dishes, so I don't call for any here, but spicy-fans may want to throw in a little minced jalapeno or chile pepper.
Test Kitchen Notes
Love at first bite! jennybgood layers her flavors and textures in such a way that each bite of her salad is a bit different, and all are exquisite. I love that she gives the cook a choice of different quinoas to use (I had red and white, so I blended them), as well as different greens (I used a mixture of mesclun and red cabbage). The black beans and mangoes are heavenly together, and his suggestion to squeeze the mango pits to extract their juice is sheer genius. The combination of sweet mango with her lemony-ginger dressing is divine. The crisp, deeply-flavored onions and the creamy, tender avocado wrap everything together like the gift that this salad is. —boulangere
serves 4-6 as a main course, 6-8 as a starter
Quinoa and Mango Salad
regular, red or black quinoa, rinsed well in a strainer
large red onion, halved stem to root and slivered
can black beans, rinsed and drained
micro greens (I used a rainbow blend package from Whole Foods herb section: mizuna, curly cress, red and yellow beet, arugula, cabbage) – if not available, mesclun, spring or baby greens are fine, rinsed and dried
Cook the quinoa: In a saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until most or all of the water is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. The little "tails" should pop free from the grain and it should still be pretty chewy. If any liquid remains, strain the quinoa. I usually add it to a strainer either way and rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking process, then continue to fluff it every so often as I'm preparing the other ingredients.
Toss onion slivers with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes. Resist stirring until they begin to brown, then stir occasionally; not too much or they will not brown as nicely. Remove when they are soft and nicely colored. Let cool.
Pit and dice mangoes. Try to squeeze out some of the juices from the fibrous part surrounding the pit before discarding it – there's often a lot of juice in that section. Add it to the diced mangoes
Make the dressing: Whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice. Whisk in the ginger and add salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the salad: Mix the quinoa, mango (and juices), black beans, and cilantro together. Spread the micro greens on a large plate and layer the quinoa mixture over the greens. Top with the roasted onions and the avocado slices. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.