Tropical Quinoa Salad with Creamy Mango Dressing

updated May 27, 2021
Tropical Quinoa Salad with Creamy Mango Dressing

This light, refreshing salad is packed with avocado, mango, and quinoa, then tossed in a creamy mango dressing.


Prep20 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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tropical grain salad on a plate
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Being Nigerian, I gravitate toward tropical fruits and veggies like pineapple, okra, plantain, mango, and avocado. The latter two ingredients star in this salad, which I believe should be on repeat in your kitchen all summer long. They work in complete harmony, the rich and creamy avocado balancing the sweetness of the mango.

Using mild baby spinach as the base lets the other ingredients sing; quinoa adds heft and makes the salad feel like a complete meal (you could also use fonio or couscous). And because no salad is complete without crunch, a sprinkling of sliced almonds brings it all together.

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Mango in the Salad, Mango in the Dressing

Can we talk about mangoes for just one second? I’m not sure there’s a more delicious fruit in existence. I’m always tossing mango into my salads for delightful bursts of sweetness. In this salad, though, I double it up, with mango in the dressing as well as in the salad itself.

Blend ripe mango, lime zest and juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper until smooth and then refrigerate for up to three days.  The mango creates a super-smooth but not-too-rich dressing.

How Do I Buy the Right Ripe Mangoes?

The right mango for this should feel heavy in your hand and give when firmly squeezed (it should feel soft, but not mushy!). If the mango is still hard, let it ripen for a few days on the counter before using.

Tropical Quinoa Salad with Creamy Mango Dressing

This light, refreshing salad is packed with avocado, mango, and quinoa, then tossed in a creamy mango dressing.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2 cup

    quinoa, any color

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

  • 1 cup


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 2

    large mangos

  • 3

    medium limes

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2

    large avocados

  • 3 packed cups

    baby spinach (about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup

    sliced almonds


  1. Place 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cool, running water. Drain well. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring constantly, until the water evaporates and the quinoa is toasted, about 2 minutes.

  2. Add 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

  3. Remove the saucepan from heat. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer the quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.

  4. Dice 2 large mangos. Place half in a large bowl, then place the remaining in a blender. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lime and into the blender (about 1 tablespoon). Juice 3 medium limes until you have 1/3 cup juice. Add the juice, remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 black pepper to the blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  5. When the quinoa is ready, add to the bowl of mango. Dice 2 large avocados (about 2 1/4 cups) and coarsely chop 3 packed cups baby spinach. Add the avocado, spinach, and 1/4 cup sliced almonds to the bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the mango dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with more kosher salt, black pepper, or dressing as needed.

  6. This salad can be served immediately, but is best served chilled for 1 to 2 hours first. Refrigerate the remaining dressing and use on leftover salad.

Recipe Notes

Using cooked quinoa: If starting with cooked quinoa, you will need 2 cups.

Make ahead: The quinoa can be made up 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.