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Help me plan a dinner around a long list of allergies!

We have invited two couples over for dinner - 1 pair are old friends and the other new but I want to make a dinner that will make everyone feel at home and welcome. Ideally, I would be able to prepare at least a portion of it in advance so I can enjoy time with our friends. The problem is between the 4 of them there is a long list of food allergies to accommodate. So far the only idea I've come up with is a pasta puttanesca (once I get confirmation that anchovies are definitely in the clear). Here is the list of allergies:

All shellfish
All poultry (includes broths and eggs)
All squashes
Aged cheeses
Macadamia nuts

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  1. Is beef out of the question? A nice London Broil? Roasted brussel sprouts or broccoli rabe on the side?

    Is it a fancy dinner? If not, lasagna...meat, or spinach. Mozzarella only.

    Dishes of almonds, olives during a cocktail hour?

    Green salad? Gazpacho shooters?

    Then a beef or pasta dish?

    1. Braised meat dishes? Like beef or pork stew?
      Something in in the potato or root vegetable family.
      Green salad
      Lasagne with a bechamel sauce/bolognese base
      Roast beef
      Pork tenderloin

      I think the braising is best for making things in advance.
      Some friends made use stuffed cabbage that was hands off food prep along with a pineapple cafloutis.

      1. This isn't a bad list at all. You still have beef and lamb open to you, which you can take in multiple directions. Not sure whether you wanted to go formal vs. family style. Your pasta puttanesca suggests family style, so:

        You could easily go with a traditional English Sunday supper of roast beef, yorkshire pudding and some roasted veggies.

        Or go Indian with a beef madras curry, maybe an aloo gobi and basmati rice.

        Or Chinese with a stir fry.

        Or Middle Eastern with lamb kebabs and mujadara.

        And any number of other directions, too, including vegetarian!

        1. are you looking for a "fancy" meal or a more casual fare. You have a lot of room here because it seems that meat, fish and dairy are still on the table as are many veg including cruciform

          you definitely have room for a pasta course followed by a meat and veg -

          you could consider an arrabiata in place of puttanesca if the anchovies are a concern (I would make sure tomatoes and other night shades are ok)

          main course if fish is ok perhaps a poached salmon or baked sea bass - both are minimal on prep can sit a minute and can be very tasty

          alternately a prime rib or pork loin with some roasted potatoes

          one thing you may consider is to source as much of your meal organic/grass fed etc as my experience as a non allergenic person is that people who suffer food allergies often suffer more from pesticides and what is on the food than I do. Also avoid using short-cut products like prepared sauces or seasonings as all sorts of things creep into them.

          1. I needed to add all nuts to the list and lamb as well (well, actually - that's just my own personal preference, but as I'm the chef :))

            Definitely doesn't need to be fancy - we're not really meat and potatoes kind of people, but that's not to say we couldn't do a roast of some sort.

            And for the people who have suggested lasagna and yorkshire pudding - can you do those without egg?

            Also, I probably should find out what he means by aged cheeses - I have a general idea but want to make sure.

            7 Replies
            1. re: momnivore

              Ah, sorry, I missed the egg bit for the yorkshire pudding. But I would sub a roasted garlic mashed potatoes instead. If you do the low and slow method on the roast beef, there is very little work to do once your guests arrive. You won't get a lot of drippings with the low and slow method, so you could make a great red wine sauce with some beef stock, shallots and butter ahead of time. Mashed potatoes can be made ahead and held in a slow cooker or in a double boiler. Roasted veggies can be prepped ahead of time and just popped into the oven before dinner.

              1. re: TorontoJo

                And I just saw your "not meat and potatoes" comment. Sorry, I need read more thoroughly before responding!

                So, shifting directions...I love this red and black rice and lentil dressing (you can leave the almonds out):


                So many great flavours and textures and it's better made a day ahead. You can pick a protein of your choice: grilled or sauteed fish would be really nice, but you could easily serve it with medallions of beef.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  That looks really interesting - even if I don't make it for this party, I think I'd like to try it. Thanks!

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    That stuffing looks very, very good. I'd love to give it a try.

                    1. re: Jeanne

                      It's delicious. I've made it twice as the vegetarian stuffing for Thanksgiving and both times the carnivores requested that it be added as a regular menu item.

                      I haven't been able to find red rice, so I used black rice and Lundberg's wehani brown rice blend.

                2. re: momnivore

                  And one more thought that might fit your tastes more: penne alla vodka with crisped pancetta on top, serve with a simple salad.

                  1. re: momnivore

                    I'm egg allergic and do lasagna without egg all the time - I just use the ricotta straight - it does spread easier if you put it in a bowl and stir it up first, but I'm allergic, so I always do egg free.

                    Pretty much all pastas have a cross-contamination warning for egg, but most people do fine with them - my food allergies are the swell up and die variety, and I personally do fine with pastas with egg cross-contamination warnings, but that is what works for me. If you are looking to be super safe in this regard, a lot of folks consider DeCecco to be the safest brand - they have an egg cross contamination warning as well, but they use regular egg rather than powder in the facility, which is less likely to get airborne and stick to tons of things.

                  2. another question to think about is are this group - allergies aside - adventurous eaters? Are you open to curries and tagines and exotic spices here or are you looking for more of a traditional dinner party meal staged in courses etc.

                    Pick a protein that you want to work with and a build around that

                    1. Most any sort of tomato-based sauce for pasta should be fine, it wouldn't have to be puttanesca, unless you really wanted that in particular. All greens seem to be fine, so that would include both cooked and salads. I don't think this is a stiflingly restrictive list, myself. I think you should come up with a concept and then try to make it work around the problem foods. Unless you're going for a chicken/shellfish themed dinner, you should be able to remove or substitute for appropriate foods.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: willownt

                        I agree entirely with willownt

                        It's a pretty easy list. Choose a cuisine or a theme and proceed

                      2. First thing I thought of was lasagna with just mozzarella, crusty rolls, and a salad.

                        Otherwise, what about a pork loin? Season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary, and roast away. A gravy could be made with vegetable broth. Seasoned roast potatoes or Israeli couscous, and green beans alongside.

                        1. because almost all legume-based main dishes are open to you, this looks like a pretty easy list to accomodate

                          1. This hearty italian ribollita would be perfect, just omit the parmesan. Its even better the next day, i would definately make ahead.

                            You could do an antipasto platter to start with roasted veggies, marinated olives, etc

                            Or you could do pot pie- individual ones are always precious, you could use disposable tins if you don't own ramikins. Start with a salad of winter greens

                            Enchiladas- bean/veggies, whatever cheese is allergy appropriate or use daiya non dairy cheese. Serve with mexican rice and a salad with cilantro and lime vinegrette.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              I was also thinking if you're in a cold climate, a ribollita or some kind of bean-green-sausage/bacon/no meat soup, plus a crusty peasant bread (those are usually egg-free).

                              You said you're not meat-and-potatoes folks, but one of my favorite in-advance dinner party meals is a short rib braise. Better if done a day in advance. You can serve on mashed potatoes or polenta. This is a fave: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                              What about a bolognese if puttanesca doesn't work?

                              The tricky bit is actually dessert -- baked goods w/o eggs can be tough to find! A fruit pie or crumble would though -- just serve with whipped cream rather than ice cream -- as would a couple of sorbets.

                            2. I personally would stay away from a dish with anchovies because so many people don't like them but would assume they would not be used.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: escondido123

                                That's exactly my thoughts too. It would never occur to me to serve anchovies to a group.

                                1. re: escondido123

                                  I have successfully hidden anchovies in anchovy haters dishes for 30 years.

                                2. Are you interested in Indian food?
                                  Saag paneer, cabbage saag, malai kofta, samosa, pilaf, and a poori or naan could work. Though thats vegetarian off the bat.

                                  How about taco night? Chili could be a one pot meal. Pulled pork or braised beef can be used for these suggestions.

                                  1. Also, pad ke mao is a personal favorite of mine! You could sitr fry beef for it and rice pasta has no eggs, just rice and water.