this black bean and mango quinoa salad is another one of those recipes that i tried years ago and really liked. except that it would be better if the bell pepper and jalapeño were sautéed. and clearly it needed avocado. but not so much with the corn.
in other words, i did what i always do: i changed it a bunch to suit my preferences and whims. and now i think it’s perfect, but you should feel free to make it your own and adjust and tweak until it’s *your* favorite black bean and mango quinoa salad.
and since i’m forever squeezing mangos, trying to smell them, wondering if the color means anything, and then eventually just crossing my fingers and cutting into them to see if they’re ripe, i thought i would actually do a bit of research to find out if there is a reliable way to tell if a mango is ripe (though, good news: not-quite-ripe-yet mango works well here too! i’ll leave it to your imagination as to how i figured that out…). and then i figured that i may as well shared what i learned with y’all from our friends over at mango.org. without further ado…
how to tell if a mango is ripe
- ignore the color, at least as an indicator of ripeness. some varieties have red patches, others don’t. apparently, this tells us nothing about ripeness.
- instead, give the mango a gentle squeeze. it should give slightly. (i have to say, i struggle with this. clearly rock hard is bad and downright squishy is bad, but i’m still figuring out what “give slightly” feels like.)
- your mango may smell like a mango at the stem end if it’s ripe but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t ripe.
how to store a mango
- store mangos at room temperature until they ripen. if you want the mango to ripen faster, place it in a paper (not plastic!) bag and fold the top closed. this traps the ethylene gas that causes the mango to ripen so the process occurs more quickly.
- once the mango is ripe, transfer it to the refrigerator, where it will continue to ripen, but more slowly. a whole, ripe mango should last for about 5 days in the fridge.
- for convenience, you can peel and cut up a mango and store it in an airtight container. it will brown very slightly over the course of a few days so i wouldn’t recommend this if you want to serve a pretty fruit salad to your in-laws 3 days from now, but if you just want a fighting chance at dashing out of the house in the morning with something healthy tucked in your bag, definitely cut that mango in advance! speaking of…
how to cut a mango
alright, here’s where we reveal that i am a total hack in the kitchen. there’s this widely accepted fancy way of cutting mangos that the internet loves that i JUST. CANNOT. GET. TO. WORK. i think it maaaay have something to do with the fact that my mangoes are never quite ripe enough that a spoon (a spoon!) has any chance at separating the flesh from the skin.
instead, i grab my trusty (read: super sharp) oxo vegetable peeler and peel the mango like you would peel a potato (well, assuming you peel a potato with a peeler). then i put the mango narrow side down on the cutting board and cut the two big, flat sections off either side of the big, flat pit. then i start carving around the pit with my knife because mango is delicious and i want every last scraggly-looking piece, thank you.
is this method correct? no. is it graceful? no. does it result in perfectly uniform little cubes of mango? no. does it work and get maximum mango goodness into your bowl/belly? why yes, yes it does.
ps – if you’re jazzed about summery quinoa salads, here are a few more to check out:
pairs well with:
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (or ¼ cup (1 ½ oz. / 44 g.) dried quinoa, if you don’t have any leftover cooked quinoa)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 15.5 oz. (439 g.) can of low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
- 1 avocado, diced
- ¼ cup diced red onion
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- juice from 1 lime
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground chili powder
- optional: shredded cooked chicken
- if you don’t have 1 cup of cooked quinoa leftover, cook ¼ cup dried quinoa according to the package directions. set the quinoa aside to cool when it’s done cooking.
- in a medium skillet, heat the 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. add the red bell pepper and sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the pepper is beginning to soften. add the jalapeño and stir constantly for 30 seconds – 1 minute, until the jalapeño begins to soften. remove from heat.
- in a large bowl, combine the black beans, mango, avocado, red onion, cilantro, red pepper, and jalapeño (and chicken, if you like).
- in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, cumin, and chili powder. shake to combine.
- pour the dressing over the salad and toss to distribute the ingredients and the dressing around evenly. serve at room temperature or chilled. leftovers keep well for a couple of days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
nutrition facts are for 1 of 4 main course servings without chicken
what else we’re eating:
as i mentioned last week, i went on a bit of a kale spree at the farmers’ market and needed to find kale-centric recipes to use it up (my husband was super excited…). love and lemons came to the rescue again, this time with ginger noodles with kale and shiitakes. once again, i swapped baby bella mushrooms for the shiitakes, which were expensive and sad looking at the grocery store. i used soba noodles, skipped the broth, used cilantro instead of basil, and added some shredded rotisserie chicken. i feel a little sheepish about rendering a verdict here, given how much i changed, so i will just say that for *my* version, it’s verdict: yellow light
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