Wheatless Wednesday – Black Bean Quinoa Salad


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Tired of green salad?  This flavor filled quinoa salad with mango and avocado topped with an orange cumin vinaigrette is my new favorite!  I promise you won’t be bored. It’s a little bit spicy from the jalapenos, a little bit sweet from the mango, the black beans add a rich salty flavor and fresh avocado, purple onion, bell pepper and cilantro make it salad worthy.  Yum!

Quinoa is the perfect backdrop for these beautiful flavors.  It also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse, high in protein, low in fat, gluten free and loaded with lovely vitamins and minerals (but you don’t have to tell your family that).  What I didn’t know is that Mango is also a superfood, providing over 20 vitamins and minerals in every delicious bite. ( This puts a whole new light on my recipe for Mango Margaritas!)  Black beans add another protein and nutrient boost and their high fiber content helps keep your tummy full. Then there is the Avocado, which we now know is a good fat that is highly nutritious.   The best part of this salad though, is how great it tastes!  I can’t wait to have it again for lunch…

This is the perfect dish to throw together for an easy dinner or bring to a potluck, especially if you have leftover quinoa on hand (or you make it ahead), then it’s only about ten minutes of chopping, mixing and you’re done!  This salad can be made a day ahead, without the avocado.  Bring to room temperature then gently toss in the avocado, if using, before serving.

TIP:  You can buy mango pre-cut but it’s very easy to do it yourself (and less expensive) if you know the right technique.  How to cut a Mango

VARIATIONS:  If you don’t have, or like, mango, you can substitute orange or nectarine segments (or even canned or frozen corn).  Use a combination of yellow, orange, red and green bell peppers for lots of color.  This recipe is only mildly spicy using one red jalapeno pepper so double the amount of jalapeno peppers and add a bit more cumin if you like it hot.

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

Black Bean Quinoa with Cumin Orange Vinaigrette

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 cup quinoa
1 cup mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red or green jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

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  • Rinse quinoa to remove bitterness and cook according to package instructions; set aside and let cool.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, cumin and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, black beans, avocado, onion and cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  • If you aren’t serving immediately, place the avocado pit on top of the salad to keep the avocado from turning brown, or add the avocado right before serving .  Serve at room temperature.

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Mexican Trio – Fish Tacos, Chile Rellenos & Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch


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Monday is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration which many Americans have wholeheartedly adopted. I mean who’s going to pass up an opportunity to legitimately drink margaritas and salsa dance on a Monday? (Stay tuned, I promise a recipe for the World’s Best Margaritas and easy ‘homemade’ tortilla chips on Friday). I have always focused on the wonderful Mexican food and cervezas without knowing much about the holiday itself, other than knowing cinco de Mayo means fifth of May in Spanish. It is a celebration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexican military was victorious over the French in 1862. The victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination.  Read more at Enclyopaedia Britannica.

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In honor of this Mexican holiday, I am presenting a trio of Mexican goodies to include in your celebration next week. They are all wheat free,  gluten free, and vegetarian, with the exception of the fish tacos. The fish tacos are made with roasted halibut, spiced with ancho chili, garlic and cumin, then topped with a  creamy, lime coleslaw.   If you don’t like creamy dressings, you can omit the sour cream/yogurt and mayo and substitute olive or avocado oil and vinegar for a fresh, zesty coleslaw.  My coleslaw turned out a glorious pink color.  The more red cabbage you use, the darker purple it will get.  I try to buy fresh fish that is live caught (rather than farmed) and sustainably fished.  Good choices are mahi mahi and halibut but any mild, white fish will work. Seafood Watch is a good source of information on selecting sustainable seafood.

I (with the direction able assistance of my son, Eric) made corn tortillas for the first time and it wasn’t a difficult as I thought it was going to be.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can find many very good store bought tortillas that are labeled organic (meaning non GMO). My favorites are organic, whole grain Taco Sliders by Mi Rancho.  They are also the perfect size (4 1/2 inch round) for taco appetizers or mini quesadillas.

I fondly remember my Mom making chili rellenos when I was a kid, using canned chilis, stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried.  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  This updated version includes fresh poblano peppers, not fried but roasted and stuffed with jalapenos and various cheeses topped with fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime.   We rounded out the meal with a Black Bean and Mango salad tossed with a dollap of homemade  avocado ranch dressing. Yum!

Spicy Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 pounds halibut(or other mild white fish), skinned, and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
3 Tbsn chili powder
1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1/2  tsp cayenne pepper(or more to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsn lime juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 teaspoon(s) salt
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  • Combine chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic lime juice, oil and salt in a gallon zip lock baggie and shake to combine.
  • Add fish and allow it to marinate for 20 minutes or so.

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  • When ready, broil fish for 4 or 5 minutes per side, until fish flakes easily. (fish can also be cooked on the grill)
  • Break into pieces for serving, if desired.

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3 cups red or green cabbage, finely shredded
2 Tbsn fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsn lime juice
1 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp salt
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  • Combine all ingredients, except cabbage, jalapeno and cilantro, in a small bowl and stir until creamy.

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  • While wearing gloves, seed and mince jalapeno and add to cabbage and cilantro.

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  • Add creamy mixture to cabbage mixture and toss to combine.


If you are using pre-made tortillas, you can wrap stacks of 10 or 12 in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.  Or wrap them in foil and heat them in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Wrap them in a clean towel to keep warm.  If you are feeling industrious and want to make them yourself, here is how:

2 1/2 cups masa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
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  • Combine all ingredients and form into a ball, kneading until it’s smooth.  It should be firm not sticky. It will not be elastic like a four dough.  Add water if it doesn’t form a ball or masa if it’s too sticky;.
  • For each tortilla, form a golf sized ball of dough and place it between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll it into a flat circle with a rolling pin.  You can free form it or use an inverted  bowl as a ‘cookie cutter’.  A golf sized ball will yield a 5 or 6 inch tortilla.
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  • Cook tortillas in a dry (ungreased/ heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, for 1 or 2 minutes on each side over medium heat until there are several small brown spots.  Stack them as they are done and cover with foil or a clean dish towel.
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Chiles Rellenos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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6 poblano peppers
1/2 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups shredded cheeses (jack, pepper jack, cheddar, parmigiano)
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon(s) freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

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  • Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally, until they are charred all over.
  • Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  Peel. The skins will come off easily

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  • Using a small, sharp knife, make a small lengthwise slit in each one, near the stem end and carefully remove the core and seeds, leaving the stem on if possible.  If you accidently cut it off, you can add it back after the pepper has been stuffed.

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  •  Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeño over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then add the cheese and chopped cilantro.
  • Carefully stuff the cheese filling into the poblanos and press the poblanos closed.

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  • Place the stuffed poblanos on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Combine tomatoe, cilantro, lime and salt in a small bowl.
  • Serve chile rellenos with tomato garnish.


Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head romaine
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Chop romaine and top with beans, tomatoes, mango and avocado.
  • Dress with avocado ranch.

Avocado Ranch

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsn apple cider or white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally when needed. Thin with water if desired.

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