I have been living on salads ever since May. Sometimes I’ll throw whatever is in the fridge into one bowl and other times I’ll actually make an effort. Sure this Cuban salad with mango and requires some cooking but when it’s this good, it’s worth turning on the oven. Bake some spiced sweet potato fries, quick braise some pinto beans, and caramelize some plantains and you have one amazing salad ready to go! Plus, the spicy southwestern dressing doesn’t hurt either.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I’ve been making most of my salads vegetarian including this Cuban salad with mango but you can easily add whatever protein you desire. But when you have filling ingredients like sweet potatoes, pinto beans, and plantains, you might not even miss the meat.
Let’s start by roasting the sweet potatoes. The sooner we can finish cooking the tubers, the faster we can turn off the oven. The idea is to make oven-baked fries so cut the sweet potatoes into french fries or matchsticks. Toss them with olive oil, Cajun seasonings, and a touch of brown sugar. Spread out the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between and roast for 15 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and cook another 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.
While the fries are baking, quickly braise some beans. I used canned pinto beans to make life easier so all we have to do is simmer it with some seasonings. You can also make the beans the day before.
Lastly, cook the plantains. For this Cuban salad with mango, we want yellow plantains for their sweetness. Green plantains are much starchier and are typically used more for tostones or plantain chips. The blacker the plantain, the sweeter it’ll be.
Cut some mangos and avocado, blend up the Southwestern dressing and you are ready to assemble. See that wasn’t too much work, right? One bite into this Cuban salad and you’ll be glad you went through the effort!
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