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Nov 12, 2010 12:16 PM

Dinner Party Ideas for Food-Restricted Guests

I'm having a get-together for about 6 people -- a few friends who haven't seen each other for a while, and a few significant others who have never met any of us. My vision for this was easy and "fun". When I say "easy," I mean easy to eat and appreciate, doesn't have to be super-easy to make. I was thinking homemade pizza with a couple different salads with bitter/sour notes.

But then I found out that one of my guests doesn't eat wheat or dairy. So that rules out pizza, along with dumplings. And I quickly realized that most foods I consider easy and comforting involve cheese or dough as essential components.

I also have two guests who do not eat red meat or pork.

I don't want to do tacos or other Mexican-influenced fare, as a) we live in LA and you can get something delicious and easy and Mexican on any corner, and b) I'm no expert, and two of my guests have lived in Mexico City for extended periods and are themselves accomplished Mexican culinaires. (is that a word?)

Anyway, any suggestions for me? I am really scratching my head here, and can't get out of the box.

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  1. Does goat qualify as red meat? What about doing a goat (or chicken) pozole?

    Edited: Oh, sorry, I just realized you said you didn't want to do Mexican-influenced fare - I read your question the first time as a Mexican recipe request. Oops! Hmmmm, easy wheat/dairy/red meat/pork free... Roast chicken is the first thing that comes to mind. Very easy, very tasty - add some roasted root vegetables (maybe something offbeat; apples + fennel + carrots?) and as your dinner guest, I'm impressed. (Frankly, I'd be impressed with any host who graciously accommodated so many dietary no-go's!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: muirne81

      This sounds great! It's hard to find someone who doesn't like roast chicken.

    2. I think you could do a nice Greek-inspired spread. Serve baba ghanoush and hummus to begin, with sliced cucumbers or other veggies and pita for dipping. Follow with stuffed grape leaves (you can find a really good recipe here with no red meat:, a big salad with maybe arugula and grapefruit, and fruit and cheese for dessert.

      The person who doesn't eat wheat or dairy can pass on the pita and cheese with no problem.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Euonymous

        I'd consider a nice roast chicken ( or 2), with roasted roots, a couple of different salads and cornbread made entirely with cornmeal. for dessert, hmmm, a fruit crisp and ice cream , which the non dairy person can skip. BTW, i have just described one of my very favorite winter meals (even though you don't have winter, do you???.

        1. re: Euonymous

          I hate to be the voice of dissent, but as someone with a serious gluten intolerance, I won't even go near anything that pita or other bread products have been dipped in - the risk of cross-contamination is just too high.

          If the person who doesn't eat wheat is avoiding for reasons other than an allergy or Celiac disease, this sounds like a great meal.

          1. re: whitneybee

            Providing separate bowls for the dips solves the problem easily.

        2. I recently did a chicken stir fry which was really good and would follow your guidelines. To go with, I also made some spring rolls using the rice papers, filled with shredded cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, mushrooms and mung bean noodles (you could also had shrimp to these as well). Made a sweet chili thai dipping sauce. Could be fun to make a number of different sauces and these can be made up ahead of time. Had some jasmine rice to go with it as well.

          4 Replies
          1. re: boyzoma

            I was going to mention that going Asian opens up a whole world of possibilities since not being able to use dairy or wheat isn't really an issue.

            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

              agree on the dairy, but it can actually be rather difficult to avoid wheat in some Asian cuisines. many of the sauces & condiments contain wheat in the form of soy sauce or wheat starch. just something to keep in mind :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                True that; a wheat-free tamari would solve most of those problems.

                How about veggie sushi (which could sit around without food poisoning worries)?

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Good point on the wheat starch. Completely whiffed on that one.

            2. I would be making fish. With potatoes and olive oil and garlic and rosemary.

              And salads that have vegetables, not just lettuce and greens. With cheese on the side for those who would imbibe.

              And for dessert, sorbet or macerated fruit on top of angel food cake, with whipped cream on the side. Plus cheese and fruit for those who don't care for angel food cake.

              As an aside, can someone tell me whether this menu would be, if not kosher, then at least not categorically unkosher? I wouldn't be serving shellfish.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jay F

                It is not strictly kosher unless prepared in a kosher kitchen, but it is, I think what you are calling " not categorically unkosher." If someone keeps strictly kosher they will not expect kosher food in a non kosher home. We call this meal "kosher style" in my world.

                1. re: Jay F

                  just a note that angel food cake isn't wheat-free unless prepared with alternative flour.

                2. Grilled salmon on a bed of lentils and sauteed greens. Easy. Classic. Satisfying.