Delightfully Gluten Free (TM)

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Entertaining for the Holidays

Today we have a guest post from cookbook author Carol Fenster.  I’ve recently received a lot of emails about vegetarian and vegan gluten-free choices, so I thought this was quite timely.

I hope you enjoy her post and the accompanying recipe.  And Carol, you had me at Chipotle Cream.


Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Entertaining for the Holidays

Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery, 2011)

There was a time when gluten-free and vegetarian were two terms seldom used together. But today, with roughly 21 million Americans on a gluten-free diet and 23 million saying they follow a “mostly vegetarian diet,*” we are seeing more gluten-free vegetarians. In fact, you may be one of them!

My publisher’s request to write 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes was undoubtedly motivated by these statistics, but the timing was especially fortunate for me. I had just been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and was already seeking plant-based, gluten-free recipes to speed my journey toward recovery, so I knew there was a need. I developed these recipes as I moved through the various stages of healing. In yet another incident of fortuitous timing, the book was published just as I was deemed “cancer-free” by my doctors.

As I wrote the book, I often thought about how hard it is to entertain people with multiple food sensitivities and how avoiding animal products further complicates this situation. However, I was happily surprised to learn just how many wonderful foods a gluten-free vegetarian CAN enjoy and in fact, the foods are so good that ALL of your guests will love them. As you can see from my recommendations from the book below, we have lots of wonderful choices.

But first, let’s start with a gorgeous, delicious soup that is also very nutritious. Serve it as a main dish or as an appetizer; it’s really cute served in little espresso cups or over-sized shot glasses.

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Cream

Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)

Apple juice provides just the right touch of sweetness to balance the spices in this vibrant soup. I love its rich orange color, and the drizzle of Chipotle Cream and sprinkle of chives make it look so elegant.. 

2 cups apple juice
2 boxes (12 ounces each) frozen butternut squash
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley, for garnish, or parsley

1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream or vegan sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon agave nectar
1/8 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

[1] In a large pot, combine all of the soup ingredients except the lemon juice and chives. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally to break up the frozen chunks of squash.

[2] While the soup simmers, make the Chipotle Cream: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, agave nectar, and chipotle chile powder. Set aside.

[3] With a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and serve hot, garnished with chives and a drizzle of Chipotle Cream. Refrigerate any leftover cream, tightly covered, for a week. Serves 4

Here are some easy appetizers for your vegan and vegetarian guests:
[1] Gazpacho Shooters (cute, served in shot glasses or espresso cups)
[2] Greek Salad Skewers with Greek Salad Dressing
[3] Baked Kale Chips (crisp and crunchy, yet terribly good for you)
[4] Stuffed Mushrooms (another old favorite that never fails to please)
[5] Crostini (the Italian version of toast with toppings; make your own easy French Baguettes and then make Crostini)
[6] Mini Corn Dogs (super-simple; perfect for young and old alike)

Several vegetable and grain-based dishes can be used as entrees or side dishes, depending on the occasion:
[1] Moroccan Millet-Stuffed Acorn Squash
[2] Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Dried Fruit
[3] Stuffed Bell Peppers with Picadillo Rice
[4] Onion-Leek Tart
[5] Chili Corn Bread Casserole
[6] Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Breads are so important to us, so try these mouth-watering choices that are also vegan:
[1] Angel Pan Biscuits
[2] Rosemary Focaccia with Onion Marmalade
[3] Basic Scones with Drizzle
[4] Hearty Bran Muffins
[5] French Baguettes
[6] Breadsticks

Desserts, especially at the holidays, are especially important so try these vegan choices:
[1] Ginger Molasses Cookies
[2] Chocolate Brownies
[3] Almond Vanilla Cake
[4] No-Bake Cheesecake
[5] All-American Cherry Pie
[6] Tiramisu

Whether you are a host or a guest, here are some final tips:

[1] If you are the host, query your guests beforehand about any food sensitivities or preferences. Try to have at least one dish that everyone can eat. If you’re a guest, offer to bring a dish that you can safely eat.

[2] If you are serving a buffet, use place cards to list the ingredients in each dish so guests know which are safe. If it is a sit-down dinner, I always describe the dish to my guests with a comment such as “…and it doesn’t have any gluten or dairy in it.”

[3] Don’t be afraid to say “no, thank you” if you’re served a dish you can’t eat. If you’re the host, honor a guest’s refusal by not pressing the food on them again. I once continually asked a guest to eat a chocolate dessert only to learn afterward that she was allergic to chocolate. I learned my lesson!

[4] When you’re not sure what to expect as a guest, do what I do: eat beforehand. If you’re the host and your guests aren’t eating the wonderful food you prepared, don’t take it personally. They may not wish to draw attention to their situation and your job is to make them feel welcome, regardless of what they do or don’t eat.

Happy Holidays!


*Source: 2008 Harris Poll commissioned by Vegetarian Times.






One response to “Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Entertaining for the Holidays”

  1. raquel Avatar

    I like the tip eat before hand, I usually the last one to eat and sometimes can’t eat after =)