Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

One of the things they don’t tell you when you get married and buy a house is that you will, no matter how hard you try not to, have a junk drawer. You can both walk into the house with the best intentions of keeping things neat and organized and saving only the pieces of paper that matter, but ultimately you find a reason to keep everything. And it all ends up in that one drawer that you’d be embarrassed to open in front of anyone but your spouse. Because honestly, you have no idea what’s in there. You stopped keeping track long ago. Any attempt to clean it turns into a clown-car scenario leaving you wondering how it all fit in there and how much further there is to go till you can see the bottom. We’ll just figure that out some other time. Please tell me you have a junk drawer, and perhaps a junk closet or two too?

My blog is eerily similar to my junk drawer. That’s just what happens when you’ve been at it this long. Except that people are free to open it up and peak around without your supervision. And of course, one woman’s junk is another one’s treasure.

“I totally made your lemon herb swordfish last night! It’s so good, you eat it all the time, right?” Who knew there was swordfish on this blog? Not me…

I confess I probably can’t remember half of what’s hiding in here. And I get a tiny little anxiety attack every time someone says, “So I was going through your blog…” Sh!t. What did you find? Is that something anyone should be touching with a 10 foot pole?

But when Elina mentioned that my recipe for Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad had lost its photo (which has happened with some of my old posts since switching from Blogger to WordPress) I actually didn’t mind at all. The picture, I remembered, was not worth recovering at all. But the recipe? It couldn’t have been more perfect timing.

gluten-free side dish, healthy summer side dish, healthy potluck dish

I was already in the midst of planning a little Cinco de Mayo fiesta but hadn’t figured out anything beyond the obvious fajitas and margaritas. And our friends that were coming over, you know what recipe of mine they love most and have made a zillion times? Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad, of course! What better opportunity to get a new picture of the salad – and add a few new twists in the form of coconut too.

As a side note, my friend was impressed with my ability to make “just a single batch” – the amount I’d bring as a healthy summer side dish to any potluck or barbecue. She prefers to double (or triple!) it to have a large bowl chilled in fridge, ready to feed the whole family for lunch or snacking all week long. If that isn’t one of the nicest things someone has ever said about my recipe, I don’t know what is 🙂

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Calories in Tropical Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

Yield: 6 side-dish servings

This healthy summer side dish is the perfect thing to take along to any potluck or barbecue - or, to keep in fridge for satisfying snacking.


1/2 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions
2 mangos, peeled and diced
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
4 tbsp light coconut milk (from a carton, such as So Delicious brand)
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut


Combine the quinoa, mangos, black beans, red onion and red pepper in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

Add coconut milk, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, ginger, cumin, coconut sugar, and salt to a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour over the quinoa mixture and stir to coat.

Gently mix in coconut and cilantro. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories 216.1
Total Fat 5.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 111.2 mg
Potassium 344.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 36.7 g
Dietary Fiber 6.4 g
Sugars 12.0 g
Protein 7.0 g

Cara Lyons,

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16 Responses to “Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad”

  1. 1

    Nicole, RD — May 17, 2012 @ 7:14 am Reply

    I am loving quinoa lately 🙂 I could even eat this as a meat with a few crackers or slice of baguette.

  2. 2

    Ronnie — May 17, 2012 @ 8:14 am Reply

    This is hands down my FAVORITE salad to bring to a BBQ and I always keep some separate for us at home! It is exactly what a summer salad should be- refreshing and not weighed down by tons of mayo 🙂 love it, but you already know that!

  3. 3

    Lindsay — May 17, 2012 @ 9:27 am Reply

    Hi Cara – I love this recipe, but do not like coconut. What can I substitute for coconut milk, and coconut sugar?


    • 3.1

      Cara — May 17, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

      Hi Lindsay, you can use the dressing I made when I originally posted this recipe:
      Just FYI, coconut sugar does not taste like coconut. It is easily substituted with brown sugar or sucanat. Not that I expect you to go out and buy coconut sugar, but just in case anyone ever serves you something with it, don’t expect to taste coconut 🙂

  4. 4

    carrie @ brick city love — May 17, 2012 @ 10:50 am Reply

    This has a staple for me since you first posted it. OMG YUM. I too make a large batch to keep in the fridge for days. I usually up the cilantro quite a bit (like at least double). I also use barley, instead of quinoa (because it’s easier to find) but it’s delish with either. It was perfect without the coconut but I’d give it a whirl with it just try.

  5. 5

    Joanne — May 17, 2012 @ 9:55 pm Reply

    I’ve definitely made this salad before and I’m so glad you reposted it so that I can make it again! I’m totally on a mango kick.

    I also have a single lady drawer like that. I don’t speak of it to anyone. Not even the new boyfriend. yet.

  6. 6

    grace — May 18, 2012 @ 2:17 pm Reply

    quinoa seems to be losing steam as a go-to ingredient, so i’m happy to see you’re still using it. this looks great!

  7. 7

    Kate — May 19, 2012 @ 7:56 pm Reply

    We’ve had a junk drawer in every place we’ve lived! My life is pretty much a junk drawer.

  8. 8

    Megan — May 20, 2012 @ 5:18 pm Reply

    This sounds really, really good. I’m glad you reposted because I might never have seen it otherwise! I’m always shocked when I go back through my blog and see some of the things I’ve made.

  9. 9

    Emily @ A Cambridge Story — May 20, 2012 @ 8:53 pm Reply

    Such a pretty and well rounded recipe – in terms of color, nutrition and flavor. Going back in time through the archives of a blog can be scary sometimes but this dish sounds like a winner!

  10. 10

    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — May 22, 2012 @ 12:14 pm Reply

    Just yesterday I opened our junk drawer and got annoyed enough to dump it all out and attempt to clean it up a bit. But the crazy thing about junk drawers is that it feels like you NEED all that stuff. You know? I think I threw out like 3 things and tried to organize the rest. It will be a giant mess again in like a week I’m sure….ugh.

  11. 11

    Jenn @LeftoverQueen — June 1, 2012 @ 6:59 pm Reply

    Black beans and mango are so good together!

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