I used to taste EVERYTHING when I went to a party, wedding, etc. I have now been a gluten free guest more times than I can count.
Some tips/words of advice if you will be entertaining a Celiac or individual who is highly sensitive to gluten:
1. Don’t stress!
2. Keep the food plain and simple. Use simple ingredients like vegetables, meats, oil, salt and pepper. Many sauces, marinades, broths, and dressings have gluten as a thickener.
3. Don’t assume that a processed food is gluten free without careful label reading. I have had well-intentioned family and friends make chili and soups for me, not realizing that the brands that they purchased contained gluten.
4. Don’t get offended if your guest would like to read all of the labels of ingredients you used, just to make sure there are no hidden sources of gluten. Although the FDA mandates labeling for wheat, there are no mandates for other gluten-containing grains like barley and rye.
5. If you choose to make gluten free pasta, please buy a new, cheap plastic colander and wooden spoon to use, as your normal ones are probably contaminated with gluten. You can usually find these at a dollar store.
6. If cooking with butter or margarine, open a new stick or tub, so that there is no contamination with breadcrumbs.
7. Do not place GF items directly on a rack in a toaster oven, put them on aluminum foil before toasting.
8. Talk to your guest ahead of time, if possible. Many celiacs have additional food intolerances, i.e. soy or dairy, which are helpful to know about when menu planning.
9. Ask your guest if he/she is interested in bringing a GF dish to eat and share.
10. If in doubt, order out. There are several chains in the U.S. who do a great job with gluten free entrees and prepare foods in separate areas of their kitchens to avoid gluten contamination. P.F. Chang’s and Maggiano’s both come to mind as possibilities.
Appetizers: Cut up vegetables and fruit. Slices of cheese. Nut thins or other rice based GF crackers. Shrimp. GF corn chips and salsa. Mozzarella and tomatoes with basil and balsamic vinegar.
Salads: Use any salad green and chopped veggies. No croutons. Keep dressings and toppings on the side. Have oil and vinegar available. Keep in mind that many nuts are processed on equipment shared with wheat and have the potential for gluten contamination.
Bread: If you absolutely must have bread, heat up an Against the Grain GF baguette or two and slice and serve. Can serve with GF bruschetta or dipping oils.
Main dishes: Basic meats work well, such as a roast chicken, steak, or pork tenderloin. Use oil, salt, and pepper instead of a marinade (unless you are sure it is GF). Lasgana made with brown rice noodles (Tinkyada or Trader Joe’s). Enchiladas made with GF corn tortillas (Mission brand). Baked fish seasoned with lemon and fresh herbs. Risotto. Chili made with a GF mix. Eggplant parmesan made with gluten free breadcrumbs (like Glutino). Homemade meatballs made with gluten free breadcrumbs. Most homemade Indian dishes are GF as well (obviously skip the Naan).
Side dishes: Salads. Polenta. Baked potatoes. Sweet potato fries. Butternut squash puree. Roasted vegetables. Asparagus. Homemade mashed potatoes. Simple rice dishes (avoid boxed, seasoned rice as most mixes contains gluten). GF corn bread. Thanksgiving is actually a pretty easy meal to do gluten free.
Desserts: Fruit. Ice Cream or Gelato (make sure labeled GF). GF brownies. Kids often like Fruity Pebbles squares.
Beverages: Most beers contains gluten. Wine and ciders are safe. If beer is a must, go for Redbridge, New Grist, New Planet, or Bard’s, which are all GF.