Summer brings fresh, simple and bright meals to the table. But summer guests come with all sorts of dietary requests so you have to learn to cook flexitarian. In one day I had to serve: a vegan, a Paleo, a peanut allergy, a gluten free, a diabetic and a seafood averse.
Most people with such restrictions bring their own food just to be safe but I find it a fun challenge to accommodate such diversity. What can I say? I'm a bit of a foodie weenie. (Not the hot dog kind, that would have accommodated exactly no one!)
Here are some tips on how to feed your own special blend of diners:
Appetizer should include eggs, nuts and cheese as well as vegetables and hummus to layer in protein but accommodate the range. Try gluten free rice crackers topped with deviled eggs or egg salad as one option.
Always have a whole grain rice dish made without animal products, dairy or eggs. Ideally, it will contain beans, or seeds for protein. Vegans will be thrilled and others not offended.
Try a Mediterranean theme of seasonings so flavours will hang together and barbecue some pork tenderloin and some chicken to serve alongside your grain for the Paleo peeps
Always serve a huge, composed but untossed and undressed salad. Laying out ingredients that people can assemble to their liking is a crowd pleaser.
To drink, you should know that wine is gluten free, beer is not. Vodka and lemonade pleases everyone.
Fruit and chocolate for dessert is simple and, luckily, the vegans won't touch the chocolate as it inevitable has butter or other dairy so there will be plenty to go around.
Try this basic rice dish that is delicious, easy and ready for anything. I trot it out often. Happy to share!
Lime and Carrot Rice Salad
Makes: 6-8 Takes: 10 minutes plus 45 cooking time
2 cups long-grain brown rice
4 cups water
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes
4 fresh limes
1 tablespoon sea salt
¼ cup fennel fronds or fresh dill
2 large carrots
Cook rice in a rice cooker 40-45 minutes.
While still warm, gently stir in mustard, oil, onion flakes and the juice of all limes. Grate the rind of one lime into the bowl and stir. Place in fridge to cool at least 2 hours.
Peel and grate carrots into the bowl and stir in minced fennel fronds or dill.
Store in fridge up to 2 days.
Vegan option: Stir in pumpkin seeds.
Vegetarian option:Stir in pumpkin seeds and feta cheese
Flexitarian option: Top with grilled chicken or pork
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