Meatless summer side dishes

Published 9:39 am Thursday, July 16, 2015

This 4th of July, for the second year in a row, I hosted a pool party with a few friends at a downtown Chicago roof pool.

Of course I can’t just show up with a six-pack of beer. I pack a full fledged picnic party including a cooler filled with a variety of salads, snacks and libations.

I find broccoli and potato salads are perfect for pool and beach picnics because they don’t wilt after hours of being lugged around and they’re filling without bloating. Potato salads are sort of a summer staple here in the midwest, so I want to highlight this fun new twist I came up with this year.

My plan was to make a variation of my jalapeno potato salad to include some watercress, but I ran out of vegan mayonnaise as I was making it, so I was forced to improvise and come up with a new recipe.

At the party a couple of my friends commented on how they loved the potato salad best of all because it wasn’t creamy. They thought it was so refreshing to have a mayo-free potato salad at an American party. It’s interesting to me how popular mayonnaise-based potato salads are, yet how many people loathe them.

This vinaigrette based potato salad will give your next summer fete a fresh and light flair. Trade local seasonal potatoes in lieu of the redskins when possible and try arugula instead of watercress if you’re shopping at the farmers’ market.


Lighter & Summery Potato Salad


1 pound bag small red skin boiling potatoes, cooked until just tender

1 ½ cups chickpeas cooked in vegetable stock (or 1 16 ounce can rinsed)

1 bunch watercress, chopped

¼ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 tablespoons hulled hemp seeds

2 teaspoons minced fresh hot pepper (or to taste. I used 2 very hot local peppers)

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 ½-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

¾ – 1 teaspoon sea salt (½ teaspoon Himalayan salt)


Cook potatoes in a roaring boil for about 5-7 minutes or until just tender but not too soft. Run under cool water and let cool while you prep the rest of the veggies.

Cut cooled potatoes into ½ inch cubes and toss with remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Adjust seasoning to taste, but try to let sit overnight in the fridge and stir again before serving. It’s best if the flavors have a chance to set in a bit.

Cook’s Note

Watercress does wilt so this salad will really only keep for 2 or 3 days after served.


Kat Barry, a St. Joseph, Michigan native, is owner of Kat’s Hot Cakes vegan catering, and co author of “The New Chicago Diner Cookbook: Meat Free Recipes from America’s Veggie Diner.” She also develops recipes for, where you can find over 30 of her vegan instructional cooking videos. She is also a certified yoga instructor. Kat currently resides in Chicago, and in her free time she enjoys practicing yoga, sampling local spirits, listening to live music, and getting outdoors. Follow @katshotcakes on twitter. Kat can be reached via email at: