"Gluten-free, dairy-free, and nothing that ever frolicked" was my dinner guest's response to a question about aversions/preferences. Help!

The rest of the guests are discerning eaters and I want them all to feel special, nourished, and well cared for!

Carol Butterfield


sonya August 10, 2015
I would ask them to bring something that they're comfortable eating, because you don't want them to be bored with what you have. Then offer a fruit and veg. I'd cook everything else just the way you want to. I'm getting just a bit fed up with this expectation that people cook super special for a million different diets. When I was growing up, my aunt had major dietary limitations, and she brought food to every meal. People just weren't quite so ... entitled?
Carol B. June 27, 2015
So grateful for this community of food folk. Your answers were both helpful and amusing. We served spicy cashews and vodka "dragon" cocktails at the gathering; herbed tofu and grilled shrimp for the first, steaks (cauliflower or beef) with chimichurri and minted quinoa salad for the main; and grilled peaches with Procecco for the wrap. As a grace note, each and every diner sent a thank you for the special experience. So, passing that thanks along to you!
sexyLAMBCHOPx June 5, 2015
I have no problem with dietary requests, but I always ask the person(s) for suggestions. Takes so much stress out of menu ideas and ensures that there's something nice for them to eat.
dinner A. June 5, 2015
Assuming your guest isn't being cute about being vegan, and eats eggs but not dairy, meat, or fish, soufflés are an option. I recently made a ramp and mushroom soufflé that was really great! Cheese is a common element in soufflés but really isn't necessary if you use other flavorful ingredients (and salt them well). Here's a recipe from Melissa Clark you could use as a guideline: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12816-rescue-the-vegetables-souffle
I like to very finely chop or even roughly puree the vegetables I include to keep the texture and loft of the soufflé.

Roasted potatoes, carrots, or other starchy vegetable alongside would be nice, as well as a green vegetable -- this time of year maybe asparagus, or a salad with spring greens. If you'd like to serve your omnivorous friends fish or meat alongside this, something that is good at room temperature works best so that it can be ready whenever the soufflé comes out of the oven.

Voted the Best Reply!

Nancy June 3, 2015
Dr ShakyHands - Remember, or consider, Jabberwocky:
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Or let the guests decide if ocean creatures count.
drshakyhands June 3, 2015
Point well made. I enjoyed that :)
Susan W. June 3, 2015
That was fun Nancy.
drshakyhands June 3, 2015
What about fish? I don't really think of sea critters as being frolickers... but maybe that's just me.
Cav June 4, 2015
Along the same lines it should be possible to argue that no supermarket meat critter has ever frolicked, and indeed was probably quite depressed for their whole lives.
boulangere June 3, 2015
Rats, Carol; I forgot to include dairy free. That winnowed the list to a still-impressive 105 for you to choose from: https://food52.com/recipes/search?q=gluten-free%2C+dairy-free%2C+vegan
Carol B. June 27, 2015
Very helpful navigation tips. Thank you.
boulangere June 3, 2015
In the search field for Recipes, I entered vegan, dairy-free, and up popped 135 recipes which meet your criteria: https://food52.com/recipes/search?q=vegan%2C+dairy-free
Aliwaks June 3, 2015
I say go Asian- Vietnamese-ish

Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce - Avocado, cucumber, herbs, carrots, (I slip paper thin slices of chiogga beets in there for some pretty color) for the Vegetarian- Slip a few shrimp in for the rest of the party- no one will feel left out. Also great place for edible flowers like pansies & chive blossoms.

For Main - Rice Noodles w Grilled Tofu for the Vegetarian- anything you like for the rest of the guests ( an assortment grilled on skewers maybe?) + Lots of fresh herbs, pickled carrots & radishes, cucumbers, grilled asparagus chopped peanuts, scallions, bean sprouts, hard boiled eggs, and toss the cool noodles in a spicy tamarind vinaigrette, have some more peanut sauce available and nouc cham for dipping (make sure the vegetarian knows it has fish in it)

And for dessert - Rice pudding made with coconut milk and sliced fresh mangos and blackberries

It's a nice meal for warmer weather and so very colorful with lost of tastes and textures no one will feel deprived in any way-- and you can do fun cocktails like sugar cane juice + lime + vodka + ginger ale = a Ho Chi Min Mule

Nancy June 3, 2015
with such a diversity of diets, yet wanting everyone to feel special, I fall back on a buffet, or a bar, as in taco bar. If you make POLC risotto dairy and animal free, you could still offer a row of garnishes - grated cheese, flank steak, whatever - for the others. If you do this, I suggest doing it on a buffet or another table from the one you dine at - in my experience, some vegetarians get very nervous, cranky even when wrapped meat is in the same fridge, let alone cooked meat on the same table.
dinner A. June 5, 2015
As a vegetarian for most of my life, with many vegetarian friends and family, I have to speak up for us and say that it's not common behavior among vegetarians to get nervous or cranky in the presence of meat that's not on their own plates.
Nancy June 5, 2015
dinner at ten - I also was a vegetarian for most of my life, and had many vegetarian friends and, at times, house mates. I'm simply describing some experiences I've had with people upset at any nearby meat. Some.
dinner A. June 5, 2015
Fair enough, there are certainly some very sensitive vegetarians. Although I've noticed that sometimes meat-eaters are even more creeped out by the presence of types of meat they don't eat (usually organ meats). I've always though this was odd, with the exception of brains (braaiiiins...those are tough for me too).
jessicamclement June 3, 2015
this recipe is delicious, hearty, and original! you can serve these falafels with a tahini-lemon sauce alongside a big salad or tabouleh for a complete meal. i am a vegetarian and ALL of my friends are (big big) meat eaters, and this recipe has never failed to please all who have tried it!

jessicamclement June 3, 2015
ahem, tabouleh with quinoa perhaps... for the bulgur has wheat in it!
ChefJune June 4, 2015
Bulghur doesn't "have wheat in it," Bulghur is completely made from wheat.
creamtea June 8, 2015
June, surely that was the meaning jessica intended--bien sûr!
jilhil June 3, 2015
I second the risotto idea - elegant and comforting. If your weather is still cool enough for soup either Anna Thomas' green soup or Paul Bertoli's cauliflower soup (both are among the genius recipes on the Food52 site) would be a tasty starter.
PieceOfLayerCake June 3, 2015
My sister is gluten free and some of her friends are vegan. My go-to is risotto with a cacophony of vegetables, herbs, fungi, etc. Its endlessly versatile, comforting and rather chic. I have a basic recipe for risotto and pretty much anything but the rice can be substituted.
creamtea June 8, 2015
Layer Cake, I'm sure your risotto is more a symphony than a cacophony ;)

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