I’m assuming if you know what “GF” and “DF” means in my blog post title then you are likely someone all too familiar with food allergies. Every December our blogging team gets together for a fun potluck dinner and, since there are many allergies and sensitivities among the group, it’s always a fun challenge to come up with a “theme” and healthy recipe ideas.
This year we started off all over the map – literally. Asian food? Mexican? Friendsgiving? Or just go International (whatever that means)? I guess you could pick a continent, which brings us back to square one – haha. I knew that meat, dairy (except for butter) and gluten were all no-nos with this group so then I suggested Pad Thai as the main dish. Come to find out peanuts are a no-go as well. Then I thought, that’s okay, if I can do fish there are options – how about salmon on a cedar plank? Oh, oops there is a salmon allergy as well! But all other fish is okay so, of course, I had suggested the one offending fish protein. Gah!
Finally! An Allergy-Friendly Dinner Theme (or is it?)
So then Shawn came up with the idea for an Italian seafood theme. I thought to myself, I can do that if I am in charge of the fish, but what about the sides? I mean, allergy-friendly Italian food? But, Shawn volunteered to make a gluten-free and dairy-free fettuccini alfredo (both my daughters said to me, isn’t fettuccini alfredo basically just gluten and dairy? Yes, girls it is. LOL) and Kiran said she’d make an allergy-friendly gnocchi (which usually contains potatoes and flour). So this made things all the more interesting, and I was excited to see what everyone else would come up with!
But first I had to figure out my own main dish (as well as the appetizers). I wanted to make a sea bass dish with olives, but I don’t ever like to make anything for the very first time for guests. So just a few days before the party I had to practice … and I am so glad I did. I tried making a fish recipe with white beans, olives and chicken broth using sea bass from the grocery store (which I thought sounded good in theory), but my husband and both kids hated it!! We honestly couldn’t tell if it was the preparation or the fish itself, which had a pretty fishy smell from the minute I unwrapped it from the store. Ugh.
With only a couple days to go I didn’t want to mess around, so I called up a local fisherman who often has freshly caught items for sale at our farmers’ market. He told me he’d have some fresh grouper available the day before our party, and I said to PLEASE put my name on it! So I found a different recipe with olives (but no white beans or broth) and cut off a tiny piece of that yummy fresh fish to “practice” it –literally minutes before the guests arrived. We do what we can, right? Thankfully the recipe was super tasty, mostly thanks to the fish. It would honestly be tough to mess up something so fresh and delicious. And it was fun to tell the story of where our food came from!
Honestly, all the food turned out so good. While the “alfredo” didn’t have the same flavor as the inspiration dish, it was surprisingly good, and the consistency was spot-on. The noodles Shawn used were the best gluten-free noodles I’ve ever had. I didn’t think the gnocchi tasted “different” at all, and Kiran’s use of almond flour in it added a nice complementary flavor. It felt like a bountiful Thanksgiving all over again with so many yummy dishes to pile onto our plates!
Our Final Menu:
- Appetizer Platter with the addition of a homemade White Bean Dip recipe (pictured above, recipe below) – Made by me
- Roasted beet and carrot salad with goat cheese and a vinaigrette on the side – Made by Jason (he used yummy fresh lettuce from our garden and beets from Wild Hope Farm!)
- GF and DF Fettucini “Alfredo” – Made by Shawn
- GF Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Sage Brown Butter Sauce – Made by Kiran
- Black Olive and Tomato Grouper – Made by me
- GF, DF and Vegan version of Magic Cookie Bars and Snickerdoodle Blondies – Made by Amanda (even though she drove all the way from Kentucky, thank you, Amanda!)
All in all, it was a fun night and nice to socialize with coworkers and their spouses. By the end of the night, we even had a little impromptu live music after dusting off our electric guitar. Nothing better than having your bellies and hearts full! Thanks everyone for coming to celebrate the holidays with us. :)
Simple Balsamic White Bean Dip