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First, let's attack the obvious: this post is about potato salad, but eagle-eyes out there may have noticed that isn't potato salad up there, but rather chickpea salad. Despite not being made with potatoes, it's good stuff.

This potato salad came along to a backyard hangout a couple weeks back, and there was no plan to mention it on MSV. Not that the recipe isn't nice, but it's pretty straightforward: potatoes, celery, capers, lemon zest, and whatever herb you have lying around (the original recipe calls for basil, but it was parsley for the potato version for the party, dill with the chickpeas shown here). It's a long-time favorite in the MSV house and goes with pretty much anything, which makes it a great side to bring when you're planning on playing a quiet supporting role at a pal's gathering. But on the way out the door, the compliments started piling up. The host asked what was in the dressing. The answer is olive oil and lemon juice, plus a little dijon and sugar. That's it.

It's a good lesson for vegan cooking and entertaining. It's easy (and sometimes fun!) to sweat substitutes, but never forget that a little extra olive oil and lemon go a long way.

Naturally, the next step was to put together a protein-packed version. Relying on the convenience of canned beans, there's not a bit of heat to apply, and this recipe couldn't be easier. Or handier to keep in the fridge. Munch on it as-is, or tuck it into wraps or pitas with summer veg and sprouts. Leave the chickpeas whole or mash them up to make them easier to turn into sandwich filling. Try it with different beans, lentils, or tempeh.

So get the recipe. For the party, the recipe was doubled, using about four pounds of potatoes. For the chickpea version, make the recipe as directed using two cans of beans rinsed and well drained. You may not need all the dressing for a bean version, since beans aren't as starchy and absorbent as potatoes (but you may want to use it all, especially if you're making it as a sandwich filling—follow your bliss), but you won't be sad to have a little extra dressing in the fridge for whatever. You'll also need less salt for beans. Otherwise, you don't need any help getting this dead-simple side onto your plate.

Back next week with a new recipe.