Central American Jar Salad Recipe
Something many people may not know about me is that I’m half Nicaraguan (my mom is from Nicaragua), that Spanish was my first language, and that I actually grew up eating lots of Central American food. Basically, a lot of beans, rice, avocado, and fried plantains (soooo good)!
If I was going for a more authentic Nicaraguan salad, I would probably make Ensalada de Repollo or Vigoron. But for this recipe, I wanted to bring in some of the delicious flavors I grew up with and turn it into an easy meal prep salad that’s flavorful and perfect for taking to work or just making ahead of time!
I truly can’t say enough about this vegetarian Central American Jar Salad recipe. It may be my favorite of all time! It’s sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy, and balanced. The different flavors make for a creative combination that I absolutely love and could eat every single day!
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Mango, Tomatoes, & Avocado – These fresh ingredients should be ripe and cubed or diced for the best salad! And in case you’re already wondering, here’s the best way to cut a mango.
Lime Juice – Fresh lime juice helps the avocados stay fresh and adds that deliciously tangy flavor.
Cooked Quinoa & Black Beans – Feel free to cook the quinoa (or rice) while you get your other ingredients out to save time. Another option is to buy pre-cooked quinoa packets! I like using organic canned black beans, but you can also cook your own in advance.
Queso Seco – I grew up on Queso Seco, and I absolutely love the strong flavor and dry texture! However, Queso Fresco, Queso Panela, or Cotija are all wonderful alternatives for this salad.
Spinach – Finely chopped spinach or any type of chopped lettuce works great in this recipe!
Chia Seeds – I love adding chia seeds to the vinaigrette for more nutrition.
Olive Oil/White Wine Vinegar – The olive oil and white wine vinegar are the core ingredients for this vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste!
RELATED: Spanish Rice & Beans
How to Make This Central American Salad In A Jar Recipe
This Central American Salad can be made in just 15 minutes! And who says you have to make it in a jar, anyway? This recipe can be made in any airtight meal-prep container or just right on your plate. While the instructions are designed for prepping the salad in advance (aka – the salad is layered upside down so that it dumps out the right way!), simply flip the order of layers if you plan on making it fresh and eating it immediately.
- Mix the chia seed vinaigrette ingredients and divide evenly into two mason jars.
- Add the diced mango, tomatoes, and avocado layers.
- Squeeze fresh lime juice over the avocados (this helps them stay fresh and adds so much flavor).
- Add the cooked quinoa and black beans layers.
- Add queso seco (or queso of your choice).
- Press finely chopped spinach or lettuce into the jars and add the lid!
When you’re ready to enjoy the salad, simply pour the salad out of the mason jar on to your plate and mix together (or enjoy layered). It’s so fantastic!
Other Easy Central American Salad Toppings
Take things up a notch with these delicious “extra” toppings!
How to Meal Prep The Night Before
To meal prep this Central American Salad recipe, simply layer the ingredients according to the directions below and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours!
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More Healthy Lunch Ideas
- Spicy Sriracha Tuna Stuffed Avocado
- Greek-Inspired Turkey Pita Sandwich
- Slow Cooker Fiesta Ranch Chicken Wraps
- Healthy Avocado Egg Salad Recipe
- Taco Bowl Recipe
Did you make this recipe? Be sure to give it a rating below and tag your photos @jar.of.lemons!
Central American Salad In A Jar
Central American Salad
- 1 medium ripe mango, diced
- 6-8 medium grape tomatoes, diced
- 1 small avocado, cubed
- 1 medium lime, juiced
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa or rice
- 3/4 cup cooked black beans
- 2 ounces queso seco (or queso panela, queso fresco, cotija)
- 2 cups finely chopped spinach (or any type of lettuce)
Chia Seed Vinaigrette
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Mix together the ingredients for the vinaigrette, then evenly divide into two mason jars.
- Next, layer the diced mango, diced tomatoes, and cubed avocado evenly in each jar.
- Squeeze the lime juice over the avocados in each jar.
- Divide the cooked quinoa or rice, cooked black beans, and crumbled queso into the mason jars.
- Press the finely chopped spinach or lettuce into the remaining space of each mason jar, then add the lid to seal.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (if desired).
- When ready to enjoy, flip the salad over on to a plate or bowl, then toss together. Enjoy!