Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Mango

A quinoa and bean salad might sound stodgily nutritious, but don’t be fooled. This Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Mango gets rebellious with the addition of mango, zesty lime-bathed avocado and a bold Lime and Garlic Vinaigrette. It’s a great offering for summer potlucks, but who wouldn’t enjoy it any time of year? [Updated post]

Red Quinoa & Black Bean Salad witih Mango

Yes, another salad. That seems to be almost all I’m writing about these days. But then again, people, I’m afraid you’re pretty much subjected to reading about what I’m eating (assuming you don’t just move on to another blog that’s featuring steak).

Not Your Ordinary Salad

Now, when I say “salad” I’m not talking about some greens mincing about in a bowl with a slick of dressing. Oh no, I’m talking about hearty, one-dish-serves-as-dinner meals. Easy to make, super easy to serve … perfect fare in the summer when there are lots of other things to do, like painting a new screen door for the back porch, playing with the Little Misses at the park, going to the beach, or just lazing about listening to the birds and watching the pillowy white clouds floating through the blue sky (not that there’s been much of that going on around here lately).

Red Quinoa & Black Bean Salad witih Mango

Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad … with Mango

So, getting back to the topic at hand, how about this salad? Bright colours, popping flavours and a medley of textures … what more could you want for dinner? Oh, and it happens to be rockin’ nutritious too, you know, what with the quinoa and the beans and all those veggies.

I love adding mango to a salad like this (or peaches would be good too, now that they’re coming into season here). Yes, the fruit adds more good-for-you-ness, but never mind that. It’s the surprising hit of sweetness that makes it seem as if you’re eating something a little decadent and dessert-like for dinner. Ooh, the rebellious side of salad.

Lime and Garlic Vinaigrette

I don’t often use garlic in a salad dressing. In its raw form it can easily be overpowering, especially if the salad is at all delicate. But with a bold and dare I say rebellious vehicle like this Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad, an assertively limey and garlic infused dressing is just the ticket.

Grains or beans in a salad can temper a bolder dressing like this Lime and Garlic Vinaigrette, especially if the salad sits for a time before serving. I generally use more dressings on such hearty salads than on greens. It’s especially important to taste a grain or bean salad before serving to check if the seasoning needs jazzing up. And that just might mean adding another spritz or two of lime juice.

Red Quinoa & Black Bean Salad witih Mango

Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Mango
Like all salad recipes, this one is infinitely variable and how you make it will depend not only on your preferences but also on what’s lounging about in your refrigerator. I’ve made it twice already. The first time I didn’t have any cilantro, so I used chives and mint for herbal brightness, and for the dressing I used olive oil instead of avocado oil. Like much in life, it all depends …
Category: main, Salad
Keyword: black bean salad, quinoa black bean salad, quinoa salad
Author: © Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage 2013
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion (red, white or yellow)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 4-inch length English cucumber, diced
  • 1 medium mango, diced
  • 1 19 oz or 540 ml can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • a couple handfuls cilantro, finely chopped (see Notes)
  • 2 avocados, halved and sliced
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
How To Make This Recipe
  1. Soak the chopped onion in a small dish of cold water while you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients (this cuts their sharpness while retaining the onion flavour). 

  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients except for the avocado, lime juice and pepper in a large bowl. Drain and add the onion. Toss together, then dress with Lime and Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe below). Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.

  3. Gently toss the avocado slices with the lime juice and a grinding of black pepper. Set aside until ready to garnish the plated salads.

Recipe Notes

A note about the avocado: I slice it, toss it in lime juice and a bit of black pepper and serve it on the side with the salad. You could cut the slices into thirds and stir them into the salad, but I simply like the look of them better beside the salad.

If you don’t have cilantro, you could substitute a handful of chives and 4 or 5 mint leaves, all finely chopped.

Lime and Garlic Vinaigrette
Prep Time
10 mins

This dressing might seem heavy on the lime juice, but grains and beans can take a more acidic dressing than greens. They seem to absorb the citrusy tang, and I usually find I have to add a little more to achieve the right flavour. If you let the salad sit in the refrigerator before serving, always taste and adjust the seasonings first, including the lime juice. This recipe makes enough to dress the Red Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Mango.

Category: Salad
Keyword: lime garlic dressing, lime garlic vinaigrette, salad dressing, vinaigrette
Author: © Marlene Cornelis/Urban Cottage Life 2013
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (if you get some pulp in it, so much the better in my opinion)
  • 1 fat clove garlic, finely minced (see Notes)
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4–1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
How To Make This Recipe
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or a jar, and whisk (or shake) until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remember, this relatively small amount of dressing is going to adorn a big salad, so the flavours need to be quite bold.
Recipe Notes

If you don’t care for chunks of garlic, you can use a rasp to achieve consistent fineness.

Other Ideas for Quinoa

Remember when few people knew how to pronounce quinoa? Well, it’s definitely entered our culinary lexicon and proven it has an enduring place in nutritious diets. Why not have a quinoa party with this Simple Quinoa Salad, Quinoa and Red Pepper Chili and Kale, Quinoa and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad?

First published 2013 08 03
Updated 2019 03 08


  1. This salad looks incredible, Mar, and so healthy, too. I love Summer salads. They’re all so colorful and fresh looking. You really can’t get much more appealing than that.

    • Thanks, John. I really enjoy making this salad. Everything looks so colourful and smells so fresh, and the beans and quinoa add heft! In fact, I’m making it again today for my son’s farewell party, as he is about to move away and follow his career dream. A special salad for a special occasion. He won’t want to eat it, but it’s a good alternative to the burgers, ribs & sausages for those of us who prefer to get our protein from a source that didn’t oink or moo 🙂 (Or who enjoy the salad alongside a serving of meat!)

  2. Marlene, these salads not only are unique and delicious they give me a wonderful, full energy…thank you so much!!!

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