Mexican Inspired Mango Salad with a creamy avocado dressing, cilantro lime chicken and deliciously filling quinoa and beans. This is a loaded salad full of texture and healthy ingredients. We’ve got the fresh greens, crunchy tortilla chips, creamy avocado dressing and of course the soft and sweet mango – all in one bowl!
This is proof that healthy salads don’t have to be boring. Loaded salads are my life motto, as you may have noticed in this lemon chicken winter salad I posted a few weeks ago, or this healthy pasta salad with tomatoes and zucchini. Why have a boring salad when you can have a loaded one?
The elements to make a perfect salad
There are 5 elements to a perfect salad, and they are
- The something green
- Something crunchy
- Something sweet
- And something creamy
- …and don’t forget the dressing!
This is always what I work from. In this case, the something green is a mixture of red rhubarb, spinach and arugula. Something crunchy is snappy red onion and tortilla chips. The something sweet is obviously the delicious mango. The something creamy is both the dressing, avocado and cotija/feta cheese. The dressing is the most fabulous avocado herb dressing, so we are doubling the avocado today!
My favorite Mexican condiment is by far this fresh and spicy guacamole, but I think it’s a little too thick as a salad dressing. I’ve used the avocado herb sauce that I’m also using on my healthy baked falafel, in this recipe. You absolutely cannot go wrong with avocado and herbs!
And if you want a salad to become more than just a side salad, I like to add 2 more elements:
The protein in this case is the cilantro lime chicken, and if you’re one of those that thinks cilantro tastes like soap (more on that below), you are free to omit the cilantro, or use parsley instead. No judging! Or you can try the lemon chicken (but with lime) in this lemon chicken winter salad. The beans are also rich in protein, not to mention ultra delicious.
I also like to add some grains, to make the salad more filling as a main course, as I’ve done in this Halloumi and Garlic Roasted Vegetables Quinoa Salad.
So why does cilantro taste like soap to someone?
This is really interesting. Everyone in my family thinks cilantro is the best thing ever. But then there’s my boyfriend, who loathes fresh cilantro (yes, obviously there’s a difference between dry coriander and the fresh herbs!) and several of my friends. Evidently, cilantro can taste like soap due to genetics.
14% of the population, find cilantro (or coriander) unpleasant or even terrible. Scientists have found a set of genes related to smell and taste that are responsible for this effect. Some of these genes are related to the smell, and some for the bitter taste. To read a more thorough explanation of this, I can recommend this article.
Because there are a percentage difference between different cultures, it seems like the differences can be cultural and environmental also – but for the most part it’s your parents fault!
The best avocado herb dressing with lime and garlic
A flavor bomb that is all just dump-in-the-food processor-easy. I’m in love with all the flavors here; ranging from fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley (again, if cilantro is soapy, add more parsley), garlic, fresh lime and a little spicy chili. Add all the ingredients into a food processor and mix. If you find the dressing too thin, add in some almonds, and more water if you think it’s too thick. No magic tricks here!
How to Make Mango Salad with Black Beans and Quinoa
To make this mango salad extra flavorful, we marinate the chicken in a cilantro lime marinade for 30 minutes. During this time, it’s time to cook the quinoa. Cook the quinoa with salt, garlic and cumin for extra flavor. Once it’s done and you have fluffed it with a fork, mix in the beans.
The other mango salad ingredients are just chop chop chopping like you wish. I like to slice the avocado, crumble the cheese, dicing the mango and cucumber, and finely chop the onion.
There are usually not much needed to get that extra burst of flavor, making a boring salad into something delicious and flavorful. In comes the extra spice in the quinoa, which takes approximately 10 extra seconds to make. The chicken marinade also gives it more flavor and I am loving these simple tricks to delicious salads!
Did you like this mango salad? Here’s more delicious salad recipes:
- Halloumi and Garlic Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Fresh and Zesty Tabbouleh Salad
- Summer Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- Lemon Chicken with a Healthy Green Spring Salad
- Lemon Chicken Winter Salad
- Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
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Mexican Mango Salad with Cilantro Lime Chicken and Avocado Herb Dressing
Cilantro Lime Chicken
- 1 chicken breast large
- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley*
- 1 clove garlic small
- 1/2 lime juice only
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne for heat, optional
- 1/4 tsp salt and pepper each
- 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
Mexican Mango Salad
- 1 mango small, diced
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber 75g
- 1/3 cup red onion finely diced, 50g
- 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese or feta. Optional. 40g
- 1/2 avocado sliced
- 2 cups favorite greens e.g. spinach, arugula, red rhubarb. 65g
- 1/3 cup tortilla chips A handful
Quinoa & Beans
- 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa 45g. Rinsed in warm water.
- 1/2 cup drained black beans and rinsed. 130g weight after drained.
- 1 clove garlic small, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- two good pinches salt
Avocado Herb Dressing
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 cup parsley and/or cilantro semi-packed, 30g
- 1/4 cup water more or less for right consistency. 4 tbsp
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil more or less for right consistency
- 1 clove garlic small, or 1/2 tsp garlic powder.
- 1/2 lime juice only
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 red chili optional for heat, optional
- a few almonds optional, if you need to thicken the sauce
- Marinate chicken: Mix all the ingredients (except for the vegetable oil) in a bowl or a ziplock bag. Add the chicken breast. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make quinoa: Boil 1/2 cup (125ml) of water. Once boiling, add in rinsed quinoa, garlic, cumin, salt and give it a stir. Cook covered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes, still covered.
- Add beans: Once quinoa has rested, fluff it with a fork and mix in the black beans.
- Prepare the avocado herb dressing: by adding everything into a food processor and process until smooth. Add in more water if you want it thinner and add in some almonds if you want it thicker.
- Cook the chicken breast: discard the marinade, and cook on medium high heat with a tbsp olive oil. About 6-7 minutes on each side, depending on the size. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
- Prepare other salad ingredients; mango, cucumber, onion, feta or cotija cheese, the rest of the avocado, greens and tortilla chips.
- Mix everything together and enjoy!