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Some family favorites are made so often, I never refer to the recipe when I make them. This tangy yet slightly sweet black bean and mango salad is one of them. My husband requests this salad whenever we’re invited to a potluck.
I first made this salad over 15 years ago, when I moved away from the Louisiana and realized I needed to eat healthier. I love southern food, but many dishes weren’t very heart healthy. I picked up a copy of Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, hoping to find healthier dishes that didn’t sacrifice flavor. I no longer have the cookbook, but my adaptation of her spicy black bean salad has become a regular summer dish.
This is my go to make ahead dish. The black bean and mango salad tastes best when made the night before. The beans soak up the savory and spicy dressing the longer it sits.
For this salad, you can use either canned or dry beans. I use canned black beans because it’s faster. If you prefer to cook your own beans–go for it. I’ve never tried this recipe with other beans. If you want to experiment, choose beans that are on the firmer side and not too big.
Buy the rest of the ingredients no more than the day before you make the salad. You want the freshness of the cucumbers, ripe mango, scallions and cilantro to brighten up this salad.
If you think there’s a lot of beans in these pictures, you’re right! I made a double batch: one for my husband to share with his coworkers and a second batch at home just for our family.
My version is a bit bolder than the original recipe. Fresh ginger and fish sauce are staples in our Vietnamese pantry, so I increased the amounts for it. This dressing is similar to the Vietnamese nuoc cham (dipping sauce), which is probably why I love this salad so much!
You can make the salad as spicy as you’d like. I use Sriracha garlic chili paste, but you can also use the sauce version. If you do not have garlic chili paste, substitute with red pepper flakes.
Tip: The chopping and grating for this salad is the most time consuming part but totally worth it. Try to cut cucumbers and mango into similar sizes so you’ll a little bit of everything with each bite.
Serve the salad as a side at your next barbeque. Or add a protein on top and serve as the main course! Might I suggest some garlicky shrimp?