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Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Bananas

Cuban Quinoa Bowl with spicy chicken, tasty quinoa, black beans, fresh mango and caramelized bananas. So many things going on, but the flavors come together amazingly. A healthy bowl with tons of flavors and textures!


Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas


However, when I was in Cuba in 2015, there was one thing that struck me, and that was how absolutely awful the food was. They had all this luscious green nature, and should not have any difficulty in making good food. However, I suppose there are political difficulties involved here. I think the leaders of the country take all the best quality food, and the people is left with the “scraps”. But don’t quote me on that.




One time, we got to the largest grocery store in Cuba, and it was empty! They didn’t even have water. The shelves were so empty it felt like that it was the day before shutting down the entire business. It was weird, and highly unusual for me.


Norway is a very rich country, both in terms of nature but also in possibilities of import, so the shelves are always stacked. I remember one Christmas, they had trouble making enough butter for all the Christmas baking. It was absolute hysteria. There were even news articles about this, and whenever people found butter – they bought it all.


In Cuba, they had nothing. But the people seem very happy nonetheless.


Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas


However, back to the food. My point was, that I cannot believe this dish is Cuban. I really don’t, because to me, Cuban food is all about pickled lettuce, pasta that tastes like dirt and bad quality meat. This dish is nothing like that, it’s a burst of delicious flavor and color. The chicken get this tangy, citrusy marinade, and combined with the flavorful quinoa, sweet bananas and fresh mangos – it is a little piece of heaven. The best part? It’s healthy too. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring! And this is absolutely not boring.


Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas


This recipe is adapted from Half Baked Harvest, and honestly, I haven’t done many alterations. However, I find the servings too big for 4 people and I eat a lot, so this surprised me a bit. I usually never seed my chiles (if not the recipe calls for 100 bird’s eye chiles, I definitely seed – most of them), but you can if you want to.


This recipe has a little more than a few steps, but I can assure you that it’s worth it. And I would not omit one part of this recipe, because all the components work so well together.


Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas

Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas


I’ve made this recipe a few times now, and both times I’ve messed up on one thing; you are not supposed to use all the marinade on the chicken, leave half of it to make a sauce later. So I made a mess when trying to fix this problem, but I’m glad I did, because the sauce gives it a little moisture in the end. Delicious!


Please give this Cuban Quinoa Bowl a try, and you won’t be disappointed. Tell me what you think in the comment section below, or tag @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. Don’t forget to Pin it.


Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas

Cuban Quinoa Bowl with Mango Salsa and Fried Bananas

Yield: 4-6 people
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

The chicken get this tangy, citrusy marinade, and combined with the flavorful quinoa, sweet bananas and fresh mangos - it is a little piece of heaven.



  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces (450g)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 red chili, seeded if you want
  • large pinch of freshly grated pepper
  • 1 cup orange juice, divided.
  • 4 limes, juice of 4 and zest of 1
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp butter

Black Beans and Quinoa

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, 90g
  • 1 cup chicken broth, 250ml, or water
  • 1 1/2 cups drained black beans (1 can)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Fried Bananas and Mango Salsa

  • 2 bananas, sliced into 1/2 inch (13mm) thick slices
  • chile powder, sprinkle, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, or other neutral oil
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 red chili, seeded if you want + chopped
  • 1/2 of one lime, juice
  • handful chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Chicken marinade: In a blender, combine chicken marinade ingredients: cumin, garlic, red chile, pinch of pepper, 6 oz (180ml) orange juice, lime juice and zest, honey, soy sauce and a handful of cilantro. Blend until everything is finely chopped and smooth. Add the chicken pieces to a bowl and pour half of the marinade over the chicken. Marinade for at least 20 minutes. Reserve the rest of the marinade to make the sauce.
  2. Quinoa: While the chicken is marinading, start with the quinoa. Heat a large, high sided skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add in the oil and chopped onion. Cook for around 10 minutes, until the onion is soft. Add the chopped red pepper and dry quinoa, cook another 5 minutes until the pepper is soft and the quinoa lightly toasted. Then you pour in chicken broth (or water), bring it to a boil, cover and then simmer over low heat for around 30 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked and fluffy. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Mango salsa: Meanwhile, add the mango, red chile, cilantro and lime juice to a bowl. Toss well.
  4. Black beans: You can scoot the quinoa aside and cook the beans in the same pan, but I find it easier to take a new one. Drizzle a little bit of oil in a medium hot pan. Add the rinsed black beans, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until warmed through.
  5. Chicken: To cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in a little bit of olive oil when the pan is hot. Cook chicken until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Work in batches if you have to. Once all the chicken is cooked, cover it with aluminum foil. Add the marinade you didn't use into the skillet, in addition to 60 ml (1/4 cup) of orange juice. Bring to a boil, add in 2 tbsp of butter and cook about 5 minutes or until reduced slightly. Stir in some chopped cilantro if desired.
  6. Bananas: Remove the peels and slice them 1/2 inch thick. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Lay down the banana slices and sprinkle with chile powder. Fry for 4-5 minutes on each side. Be careful so that the bananas don't burn, turn down the heat if they are browning too quickly. You want enough heat to caramelize and brown the slices, but not burned. Remove from the skillet and place on a plate. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  7. To serve; divide the quinoa among 4 bowls. Top with chicken, black beans, mangoes and bananas. Drizzle with the sauce and chopped cilantro, if desired. Enjoy!


Adapted from: Half Baked Harvest

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 592Total Fat: 21.7gSaturated Fat: 10.5gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 398mgCarbohydrates: 70.3gFiber: 11.1gSugar: 31.3gProtein: 35.2g

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