Cook-Free Potluck Sides


Social gatherings are fun, but knowing you have to bring a dish adds a bit of stress to the occasion. You want to choose an easy dish that can feed a large group, is appropriate for a variety of diets, is unique enough that no one else will bring the same one, and is versatile enough that you are likely to have most of the ingredients at the ready. Well, we have the perfect recipes for your next potluck.

These dishes are easily assembled and served cold. The first is our take on a recipe created by a dietitian named Helen Corbitt in 1940, which she called Texas Caviar. You don’t need to track down fish roe for this recipe – in fact, Texas Caviar always was, and still is, vegan. The dish gets its name from having its debut in Houston, Texas and because it features black eyed peas. Over time, the name Cowboy replaced Texas to give the dish broader appeal and a quick search on the internet provides dozens of variations. If you want a more Italian flavor, you can add basil and olives. To lean more Tex-Mex, consider cilantro and avocado. Most crunchy veggies will suffice. We use limes in our recipe, but you may substitute with lemons or vinegar. We recommend frozen corn (a tad crunchier), but canned corn works well also, or feel free to take it straight off the cob. Serve with tortilla chips to eliminate the need for utensils. Cowboy Caviar is fiber-rich and a great source of plant-based iron (bell peppers are high in vitamin C, which increases absorption). 

The Melon Cooler Salad is a perfect complement or a dish you can bring on its own. It is a very simple four-ingredient recipe. Our version includes watermelon, limes, mint, and feta cheese, but it can be made with any seasonal melon, and you may add cucumbers, red onion, or even arugula. A vinaigrette dressing would work as an alternative to the limes and some recipes call for olive oil. Consider dusting the dish with chili pepper or sprinkling with a dash of salt and pepper. To choose a ripe watermelon, look for the one with the creamiest yellow field spot and a hollow-sounding thunk. Watermelon is 92% water, which helps with hydration on a hot day, and the red color comes from the pigment lycopene, a potent antioxidant.

These refreshing sides are quick to make and unique enough to jazz up any gathering. Or, combine the two recipes for a quick no-cook vegetarian meal at home. Enjoy!

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Melon Cooler Salad Recipe.jpg