‘Tis the season of entertaining, and whether you have family or friends coming for Christmas day or staying for Christmas break, chances are one or more of your guests will have a food intolerance or preference. Here are a few ideas for what to feed some of your guests:
What to Feed A Vegetarian
- Veggie burgers are probably the most classic, well-known vegetarian food out there. The trick is finding a recipe vegetarians will love, but carnivores will also devour. Earlier this week I made and served Our Perfect Veggie Burger by Oh She Glows, and they got great reviews. I don’t usually expect to hear praise for vegetarian food, but these burgers were well-loved, and many seconds were had. You can bake, pan fry, or barbecue these veggie burgers – I used the oven baking method. Just be gentle when you flip them over. These are also easily made gluten-free: just make sure you use GF breadcrumbs, GF soy sauce, and certified GF oats, if necessary.
- Quesadillas. Sure, you could just make a simple cheese quesadilla for your vegetarian family member/friend, and include meat for everyone else, but why not try these lentil quesadillas from Pinch of Yum (pictured below)? Another popular vegetarian quesadilla I often make is Eating Well’s black bean quesadilla. Of course, these are not vegan because of the cheese, and they’re a bit difficult to make gluten free because GF wraps are a major pain. The filling for the lentil quesadillas makes a great meal in and of itself, however.
- Pasta with tomato sauce is vegetarian…but it’s not very exciting. Why not try tossing pasta with pesto from thekitchn.com? You can use any greens you have on hand, and you can leave out the parmesan for any vegan or dairy-free friends/family members. This butternut squash and spinach lasagna recipe from Julia’s Album is not dairy-free, but it’s a vegetarian version of lasagna so different from tomato and beef based lasagna, no one will be thinking about the “absent” meat. Both recipes are easily made gluten-free, by using GF pasta.
What to Feed a Gluten-Free Guest
- Aside from the ideas above, which will come in handy if you have a guest who is both gluten-free and vegetarian, if your guest is a carnivore, a simple roasted chicken is a great gluten-free meal when paired with roast potatoes and veggies. There are many methods for roasting chicken, but I love the Kitchn’s “How to Roast the Perfect Chicken” guide. It’s way easier than you think. If you’re making gravy, make sure to use cornstarch as a thickener instead of flour, and if you need chicken stock to amp up your gravy, be sure that’s gluten-free too.
- When I was in Edmonton last week, the friends that introduced me to Food Wishes made Chef John’s turkey cocktail meatballs for Michael and I when they had us over for dinner. So yum. The recipe is not gluten-free as is, but they left out the Worcestershire sauce, and used crushed rice crackers as the crumbs, and they were delicious. Roast potatoes and veggies are another go-to side for this dish.
- If you’re looking for something a bit more exotic and spicy, I highly recommend Chef John’s chicken tikka masala. This is pretty much my go to entertaining dish now. You’ll need a well stocked spice cabinet for this meal, but it’s wonderful served with basmati rice, which is of course, gluten free. Make sure your chicken stock is gluten-free (chicken stock often contains barley, which is glutinous).
What to Feed a Sweet Tooth who is Gluten & Dairy-Free
- It becomes difficult to leave out dairy and gluten when it gets to the dessert course, but dessert is a pretty non-negotional part of Christmas entertaining, for most! Meringues are a great option. Duchess Bake Shop is pretty much the most magical place in Edmonton, and they shared their dark chocolate meringues recipe with Western Living Magazine. I’ve made them a couple of times, and to be honest, I’ve had trouble with the chocolate melting into the meringue mixture (resulting in the piped meringues looking a little like, um, poop), but you may want to leave the chocolate out anyways, especially if your guest has a severe lactose allergy. You could incorporate crushed candy canes into the mixture for a fun seasonal treat.
- I love ginger snaps, but I find baking cookies that are both gluten and dairy free to be pretty challenging (they spread everywhere and become one big cookie, which is less awesome than it sounds). Enter Cloud 9 All Purpose Baking Mix (which I purchased at Costco). I’m so impressed with this flour. Their ginger snaps recipe is gluten-free and dairy free, and they don’t spread everywhere while baking in the oven! P.S., this GF flour makes awesome gluten-free bread.
- I love this chocolate buckwheat cake from Smitten Kitchen. It does contain butter, but this might be okay for your dairy-avoiding guest – but be sure to ask. Dust with icing sugar, as pictured, or serve with coconut milk “whipped cream” by putting a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, scooping out the thick creamy stuff that rises to the top, and whipping as you would cream, with a touch of icing sugar (Thai Kitchen coconut milk definitely works – not all brands do, especially not anything on the lighter side).
I hope these ideas help you as you entertain this Christmas season. Are there any other types of allergies/intolerances you would like to see covered in this list? Do you have egg-free guests? Nut allergies? Friends/family who avoid soy? I’d be happy to do a round-two of “What to Feed A…”!