How to Cook for Guests with Dietary Restrictions
Go Gluten-Free, Naturally
Please guests with gluten allergies with this dish, while being hearty enough to serve as a main entree for vegetarian guests.
Try this recommended dish: Roasted Seasonal Root Vegetables over Quinoa with Yogurt Sauce by Cathy Elton of the blog What Would Cathy Eat.
Start with Antipasti
With its focus on legumes and vegetables, Mediterranean diets are a natural way to satisfy a variety of dietary needs with bold flavors. Chefs Carla and Christine Pallotta of Nebo Restaurant in Boston suggest starting off holiday festivities with a traditional antipasti platter.
Try a Flatbread Bar
San Diego celebrity chef Deborah Scott also recommends going Mediterranean when entertaining. Her favorite idea? A DIY flatbread bar featuring regular and gluten-free flatbreads, along with an array of seasonal toppings.
Try out blogger Kiersten Frase’s seasonal Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Flatbread.
Make a Menu of Mains
Chef Matthew Wexler has experience cooking for groups with a bevy of dietary restrictions. He advises hosts to remember that the most important thing is that sharing a meal with family and friends should be a joy.
Play with Textures
Terry Hope Romero, author of the book Vegan Eats World is an expert in creating vegan dishes that satisfy vegetarian folks and meat eaters alike.
Try out blogger Kitchen Treaty’s Vegetarian Caramelized Onion and Chanterelle Mushroom Stuffing, which will have all your holiday guests reaching over for seconds.
Breadcrumbs, Minus the Bread
Amie Valpone, New York City-based personal chef and nutritionist recommends blending an array of nuts in a food processor as an alternative.
Start with Vegan Soup
Chef Neal Fraser of the The Strand House restaurant in Manhattan Beach, CA, believes the easiest way to cook for people with dietary restrictions is to plan ahead and make a few dishes that fit in those parameters when you start menu planning.
Try Quinoa Flour in Desserts
Chef Ku Castano is used to satisfying a variety of palates. Castano, who now works for personal meal delivery company DeliverLean.com, recommends that holiday hosts use protein-rich quinoa flour.
Secret Ingredient: Mushroom Broth
Southern food maven and cookbook author Virginia Willis, says one of her favorite tips when cooking for a crowd is to use dried mushrooms to make mushroom broth.
Prepare a couple batches of this flavorful dried mushroom broth (omitting the noodles and fish sauce) a few days in advance to use in your favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
Keep it Colorful
Chef Jack Lee recommends exciting vegetarian ingredients such as black lentils, golden beets, meaty shitake mushrooms and delicate frisee lettuce.
Layer Textures and Flavors
Brazilian cooking expert and food blogger,Cynthia Presser, loves to entertain large groups of friends and family in her home. She believes in using a variety of versatile ingredients to expand upon texture.
One of Presser’s favorite recipes for the holidays is her Vegetarian Mixed Mushroom Lasagna. Expecting guests with gluten sensitivities? Substitute gluten-free lasagna noodles!
A Creamy (Non-Dairy!) Treat
No holiday meal is complete without dessert, but with all the time and preparation that goes into creating a large feast, you may not have enough energy (or oven space!) leftover to bake.
There are plenty of fantastic store-bought vegan Coconut Ice Cream varieties available, but if you’d like to make it from scratch, try out this easy four-ingredient version from the blog Girl Cooks World.
Serve up Some Salmon
Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist, recommends serving an alternative main course for those who may not eat (or like!) turkey or ham. A low maintenance fish dish, such as an herbed salmon, bakes quickly in the oven, providing another choice for your guests.
Turn Veggie Scraps into Stock
Famed chef and restaurant owner Michael Mina has recently started teaching home cooks how to become more confident in the kitchen in his new daily video series CookTasteEat.com. One of his favorite cooking tips is to “cook vegetables in their own natural juices.”
Not all guests can always eat the same items you've prepared on the menu (as zesty and tasty as the options may be). Luckily, we have a few pointers in the right direction that creates an option for everyone--be it vegetarian, gluten-free, meat connoisseur--whatever your personal preference.
In fact, some of the recommendations and recipes are so good, you may need to bank on making a little extra just in case!
Check out some savory recipes above in our slideshow. Perfect for the holidays!