With all the holiday cocktail parties, office parties, and buffet-style open houses, I’m not sure whether December screams “festive” or just “busy”. As a recipe developer working from home, I’m always excited to get out and mingle, but as someone who can’t eat gluten, I enter these events with guarded anticipation. Think about the food at your average cocktail party: crostini, bruschetta, little tarts wrapped in phyllo dough or puff pastry, sliders, pretzels, hummus with pita bread…Does anything lack wheat?!
In an effort to avoid an evening of carrot sticks, I bring along a heavy appetizer whenever the situation allows. Always call your host first to explain the situation and offer to bring a dish or two to share with the crowd. I’ve found that sometimes just making this phone call raises the host’s awareness enough to let you know what’s safe to eat from their own menu. Of course this approach won’t work if you’re headed to an office party or other public gathering. In these cases I resort to eating before I go or, at the very least, I keep a safe snack in my pocket or purse.
When preparing a party appetizer, make it something substantial–like these sausage and cheese-stuffed mushrooms (shown here pre-baking)–in case it becomes your makeshift dinner. (There’s nothing worse than having a cocktail and then realizing there’s nothing safe to eat.) I try to take along a universally appealing dish to boost the other guests’ opinion of gluten-free food. What’s not to like about spicy sausage-stuffed mushrooms with smoked mozzarella cheese? These Salad Rolls with Crab and Spicy Mango Sauce or Brazilian Cheese Puffs used as buns for mini sandwiches make great portable appetizers as well. What’s your approach for staying gluten free at holiday gatherings? Please share your ideas in the comments section. Cheers, LbR.