Avoiding gluten in your dinner party menu is so much easier than it sounds. Here, Katie Georgeson, from kitchen appliance manufacturer Stoves, gives us her top three tips to help you do just that.
Hosting a dinner party for your friends and family is a great opportunity to show off your impressive culinary skills. But, if any of your guests have any allergies, intolerances or dietary requirements, you’ll need to plan your menu carefully to cater for their needs.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease which affects one in 100 people in the UK. People with this condition can become seriously ill if they eat any foods containing gluten, which means if any of your guests have coeliac disease, you’ll need to know how to adapt your dishes to cater for them. The tips below will help you host a dinner party for gluten-free guests.
Which foods contain gluten?
Gluten is a protein which is usually found in grains and cereals like wheat, barley, rye, couscous, oats, semolina and spelt. Those with a gluten intolerance will need to avoid foods containing any of these ingredients.
So, your usual brands of pasta, bread, pastry and cakes are best to be avoided, as well as malted ingredients and drinks like beer, which all use wheat and barley in the manufacturing process.
Some processed foods, like stocks and sauces, can also contain gluten to improve their shelf life and flavour, so make sure you check the label before you use them. When in doubt, it’s always best to make your own from scratch.
What can you swap them with?
You might be surprised that some of your favourite foods are already naturally gluten-free. But, if your recipe relies on a certain ingredient, you can usually get gluten-free versions of them in your supermarket.
You could also swap them for other foods that are naturally free of these ingredients. These include:
- Pasta: Vegetable pasta, corn or rice noodles
- Couscous: Quinoa or cauliflower
- Breadcrumbs: Crushed nuts, seeds or plain, unflavoured potato crisps
- Flour: Almond flour or coconut flour
Foods like fruit, vegetables, meat and fish are all naturally gluten-free, as well as rice and most dairy products. So, you can still base your dishes around your protein and add your vegetables or rice as a side.
What can you serve for dessert?
While it’s quite easy to make a main meal that’s free of gluten, it can get more difficult when it comes to dessert. Unfortunately, most standard recipes for traditional puddings, from brownies and cheesecake, to meringues and red velvet cake, will include ingredients that aren’t gluten-free. So, you need to be particularly vigilant when making sweet treats for your guests.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that anyone needs to miss out — these days, you’ll be able to find a gluten-free version of almost any recipe you like the look of.
You can still surprise your guests with a beautiful cake or chocolate mousse without any problems. Just make sure you don’t stray away from the ingredient list and start adding your own flourishes. It’s surprising how many foods contain traces of gluten, it’s best to just keep things simple and follow the instructions to a T.
Are there any drinks you need to avoid?
When we talk about going gluten-free, a lot of the focus tends to be on food. But there are also some drinks that those with gluten intolerance will want to avoid. The most common are beer, lager, stout, ales, and barley squashes.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other soft and alcoholic drinks that are safe to serve. Fruit juices, flavoured waters, and fizzy drinks are gluten-free, as are ciders, wines, spirits, and liqueurs. Plus, as gluten-free diets are becoming more common, there are some beers that are brewed with this in mind, so you can have some of those on hand too.
How can you prevent cross-contamination?
It’s important that all surfaces, including grills and oven interiors, utensils and pans, are cleaned thoroughly before cooking, especially if you’ve previously been cooking foods that do contain gluten.
You should also avoid wooden utensils and chopping boards if you can, as these can cling onto food particles, making them harder to clean. It can also help to wrap food in a layer of tin foil before putting it in the oven to avoid it coming into contact with surfaces or foods that may contain gluten.
The simple tips in this guide can help you keep your dinner party gluten-free. By following them, you can create a showstopping menu that everyone can enjoy. Just remember to always check the label before use, particularly on your pasta and bread substitutes.