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Quinoa has been gaining popularity for years. I know I’ve been aware of it for at least 7 – but I didn’t try it until less than a year ago! I even have my husband liking quinoa now, which I think is pretty cool. He does love wings, but it’s awesome that he also loves healthier options and doesn’t insist on “man food.” I think he’ll really enjoy this tropical mango coconut quinoa salad once he gets home!
Quinoa is really easy to cook. The only thing “finicky” about it is that you need to wash it before cooking. This is really easy to do if you have a mesh strainer, but if you don’t, you can always rinse in the pot and carefully pour off the water. A few of the grains will float out, but most won’t! For me, the most complicated part of this dish is preparing the mango. I know you’re probably thinking “Really? You just slice it and do that little cube thing.” The problem is, I don’t do that. I peel mangos using my favorite Kuhn Rikon Swiss Peeler. While wearing nitrile gloves.
No joke. I thought it was made up the first time I heard someone say it, but it’s true – mango sap contains the same active ingredient as poison ivy. It isn’t present in the flesh of the mango fruit, but it can be in the peel and the stem. Have you ever seen where the sap leaked out around the little bit of stem left on there? That stuff could make you break out like you’d played in poison ivy! That active ingredient is called urushiol, and you usually have to contact it multiple times before you start reacting. Some people just aren’t predisposed to reacting to it at all, which is why not everyone gets poison ivy. I, on the other hand, am highly reactive to poison ivy. I don’t say I’m allergic because that sounds like I go into anaphylactic shock, but I have visited the doctor for poison ivy treatment before. It makes me seem a little crazy, but I always pick mangos up at the store with my hand in a bag, and I don’t handle them with my bare skin at home.
Whether you feel comfortable cutting mangos the way everyone else does it or want to try my peel first method, you’ll need to cut a mango into about 1/2″ chunks while you’re quinoa is cooking. The smaller pieces blend better with the other ingredients!
I have a set of those amazing Pyrex bowls with fitted lids, so I mixed my quinoa salad in one of them and simply popped the lid on to store it in the fridge. It keeps really well – I had this for about four days in a row and it was just as tasty on the last day as on the first! It looks just as pretty, too, so you can make it ahead for a cookout or potluck the following day.
- 1 cup quinoa (its before cooking volume), prepared according to its package's instructions
- scant ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar (go for the good stuff! I use Bragg's)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 mango, cut into roughly ¼" cubes (use two if you have "honey mangos")
- ⅓ c dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
- ¼ c shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Prepare your quinoa according to the package's directions. If you bought in bulk and don't have instructions: rinse 1 cup of quinoa clean then combine it in a small pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Allow the quinoa to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the grains are somewhat translucent and the germ has separated out from each grain (you'll see a ring around each one like it's wearing a pool float!). The water should be absorbed, but if the quinoa is otherwise finished and there's still extra water, you can pour the water off.
- While the quinoa is cooking, combine the (very) scant ¼ of apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and honey. Whisk vigorously to combine the honey as well as possible.
- Prepare the mango and measure out the coconut and cranberries. Add all of them to a medium/large bowl, pour about half the dressing mixture over the top, then toss to combined.
- Once the quinoa is finished, remove it from the heat, then pour the remaining dressing over it. Fluff with a fork to combine.
- Allow the quinoa to cool for about 5 minutes, then add it to the fruit and coconut mixture. Toss to combine. Stir in the cilantro.
- Cover the quinoa salad tightly with a lid or plastic wrap until you're ready to serve it.
- Garnish with additional cilantro and coconut, if desired, and enjoy!
The quinoa’s earthiness contrasts so well with the vinegar and lime juice tang and the fruit’s sweetness. I’ve eaten this topical quinoa salad as breakfast, a side dish, and as a main! It works just as well for all three.
Have you tried quinoa yet? What’s your favorite way to eat this popular “pseudo grain?”