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Why This Recipe Works

We wanted to feature the delicate texture and nutty flavor of quinoa in a fresh-tasting salad hearty enough for a main course. We started by toasting the quinoa to bring out its flavor before adding liquid to the pan and simmering the grains until nearly tender. We then spread the quinoa over a rimmed baking sheet so that the residual heat would finish cooking it as it sat, giving us perfectly cooked, fluffy grains. Black beans, mango, and red bell pepper lent the salad heartiness, bright flavor, and color. A simple but intense dressing gave this dish the acidity needed to keep its flavors fresh. We also added scallions and avocado for bite and creaminess.

Serves 4 to 6
Active Time 30 Minutes 
Total Time 50 minutes

If you buy unwashed quinoa (or if you are unsure if it’s washed), rinse it and then spread it out over a clean dish towel to dry for 15 minutes before cooking.

1½ cups prewashed white quinoa
2¼ cups water
Salt and pepper
5 tablespoons lime juice
 (3 limes)   
½ jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 (15‑ounce) can black beans, rinsed
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced thin

1. Toast quinoa in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often, until very fragrant and makes continuous popping sound, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in water and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently until most of water has been absorbed and quinoa is nearly tender, about 15 minutes. Spread quinoa onto rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 20 minutes; transfer to large bowl.

2. Process lime juice, jalapeño, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt in blender until jalapeño is finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With blender running, add oil and cilantro; continue to process until smooth and emulsified, about 20 seconds.

3. Add bell pepper, mango, black beans, scallions, and lime-jalapeño dressing to cooled quinoa and toss to combine. Sea­son with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topping individual portions with avocado.

To Make Ahead

  • Cooked quinoa and vinaigrette, prepared through step 2, can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days
  • To serve, bring quinoa and vinaigrette to room temperature, whisk vinaigrette to recombine, and continue with step 3
  • Dressed salad can be held for up to 2 hours before serving
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