Plant-Based Picnic

Try something different for outdoor cooking this summer

BY Eliza Schuett

31011539 - group of friends having outdoor barbeque at home

Potato salad, banana pudding, and the smell of fresh charcoal in a warm summer breeze after a long day on the water. These are the ingredients to the perfect summer cookout. Traditionally, meat and dairy have been staples when people gather for an outdoor barbecue.

In recent years, the popularity of plant-based diets has risen significantly. But what is involved in a plant-based regime? 

Unlike the stricter vegan diet, a plant-based diet allows consumption of meat and dairy products in small amounts, although plant-based recipes typically mirror vegan recipes by avoiding animal products. 

Those new to this way of eating often wonder: how can I make classic Southern recipes that taste as good as the original without meat or dairy? 

The short answer is substitutes. There is a substitute for nearly every dairy product, from yogurt to milk and even whipped cream! And yes, your local grocery store carries many of these options. 

This fresh cilantro lime potato salad uses plant-based mayo but sacrifices none of the bright flavor and texture. For extra protein and a light crunch, add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. 

The sweet and creamy peanut butter and banana pudding uses coconut milk instead of dairy milk and is enhanced by vanilla coconut yogurt and coconut whip. Not a coconut fan? Try almond, cashew or oat alternatives. 

For the main event, grilled veggie skewers pair perfectly with a fresh and nutty cashew chimichurri. Serve them as your main course with lots of sides, as a complement to grilled meat, or with rice for a quick weeknight meal. 

Bring these dishes to your next cookout, or simply enjoy these light and flavorful versions of classic summer fare with friends and family.

Photo by Eliza Schuett

Cilantro Lime Potato Salad 

Serves 6-8


Potato salad

  • 2.5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered with skin on
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed


  • 1 ½ cups vegan mayo 
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves (no stems)
  • 1-2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
  • Juice from 2-3 limes
  • Juice from ½ orange
  • 2 dashes hot sauce, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste and for serving


Place quartered potatoes in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-45 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierceable with a fork. Remove from the pot and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Place all the dressing ingredients into a medium jar or bowl. Blend with immersion blender or any mixer until combined. Set aside.

Dice potatoes into ½-¾ inch cubes, and place into a large mixing bowl. Add chickpeas, scallions, and half of the dressing. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with cilantro leaves and leftover scallions.

Tip: Add salt once potato salad has been served to prevent a watery mess.

Photo by Eliza Schuett

Grilled Veggie Kebabs with Chimichurri     

Serves 4-6



  • 1-2 zucchinis sliced into 1-inch wheels
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into 1-inch squares 
  • 1 package mushrooms, rinsed with stems removed
  • 3-4 ears of corn, sliced into 1-inch wheels


  • ½ cup cashews, softened
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 1 ½ limes 
  • 1 Tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper


On a metal skewer, start with a piece of corn, then add mushroom, zucchini, and bell pepper. Repeat, then cap end with corn. Wrap in foil, and place on grill heated to ~450 F. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn and cook for 10 more minutes. Or roast in oven heated to 450 for 10-15 minutes on each side. 

For the chimichurri, bring a small pot of water to a boil, and add the cashews. Simmer for 10-15 minutes then drain. Place in a medium bowl or blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Scrape down sides with rubber spatula as needed.

To serve, remove veggies from the skewer, top with chimichurri, and enjoy!

Photo by Eliza Schuett

Peanut Butter Banana Pudding 

Serves 6-8


  • 1 ½ packages vanilla pudding
  • 2 ½ cups coconut milk
  • ¼ cup vanilla coconut yogurt
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • Thinly sliced bananas
  • Vanilla sugar wafers (make sure they are dairy-free)
  • Frozen coconut whip 
  • Peanut butter 


In a large mixing bowl, combine pudding packets and coconut milk. Whisk for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Don’t worry if it’s a little thin — it will thicken with time and refrigeration. Whisk in vanilla yogurt and peanut butter. Set aside to thicken. Gently stir in banana slices, and refrigerate for at least one hour, preferably overnight. In a trifle dish or individual serving dishes, layer pudding, coconut whip, peanut butter, and sliced bananas. When ready to serve, top with sugar wafers.

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