I'm not gluten-free, but I have a fair number of gluten-intolerant friends and family members. People with whom I love to socialize but get anxious about having over for dinner. That's not to say I have a problem with accommodating their dietary needs—if anything, I'm just paranoid that I'll inadvertently dose someone with gluten because I missed an ingredient on a label or forgot that oats are often contaminated with wheat. And I'm a firm believer that guests shouldn't have to worry about whether or not they're essentially being poisoned at the table.
Luckily, as any gluten-free person can tell you, forgoing gluten doesn't mean missing out on excellent food. Whether it's you or your guests who follow a restricted diet, we've put together a 100% gluten-free menu that should make hosting just a little less stressful and extra delicious.
Mixed Herbs Salad With Olives, Tomatoes, and Fresh Mozzarella
My favorite use for my herbs isn't pesto (admittedly a close second). It isn't garnishing cocktails or making simple syrups, stuffing birds or seasoning my meat 'n' 'taters. It's eating them raw and virtually unadulterated. Here, I combine a mix of basil, lemon thyme, mint, parsley, and cilantro, and amplify it with a generous handful of peppery baby arugula. Grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced and salted, add a tart-sweet, juicy counterpoint that heightens the salad's summery feel. It's pumped up with a briny mix of chopped kalamata and oil-cured olives—strong flavors that are balanced by shredded fresh mozzarella and a lemony balsamic vinaigrette. Just be sure to double check your jar of mustard to make sure it's gluten-free.
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Fingerling Potato Salad With Aioli, Pesto, Fried Shallots, and Pecorino
Remember that pesto I mentioned earlier? Yeah, now's its time to shine. First, fingerling potatoes are simmered in vinegar-dosed water until they're perfectly fork-tender. They're tossed in a punchy garlic mayonnaise and then drizzled with a classic pesto. The whole thing's finished off with some salty Pecorino Romano and a sprinkle of crisp fried shallots.
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Seared Skirt Steak With Blistered Cherry Tomatoes and Polenta
Rich, deeply satisfying polenta transcends all seasons. Especially when it's packed with butter and Parmesan cheese. In this rendition, it gets a taste of summer from juicy cherry and grape tomatoes, which are cooked in a skillet until they burst, yielding a tart-sweet sauce that's amped up with some red chilies, scallions, garlic, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Do make sure to purchase tamari (often labeled gluten-free soy sauce) to keep this meal entirely above board.
As for the meat? Quick-cooking skirt steak marinates while the polenta cooks; a brief sear later, and it's ready to be sliced and served over that bed of creamy polenta.
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Gluten-Free Fluffy Lemonade Pie
Making this gluten-free crust is a simple matter of grinding up a box of gluten-free vanilla cookies and mixing them with butter. Pressed into a pie plate and briefly baked, it's a sweet and crumbly vessel for a filling of your choice. Here, our light no-bake pie filling takes a cue from the back of a Jell-O box, combining lemon juice, sugar, heavy cream, and gelatin into a lemonade-inspired dessert.
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Gluten-Free Brownie Brittle
It's hardly a feast without two desserts. This recipe is easily customized with an array of optional toppings—think chocolate chips, chopped nuts, toffee, or shredded coconut. Just whip up the batter, which calls for white rice flour in place of traditional wheat flour, and pour a thin layer on a sheet tray. Then sprinkle on your toppings and slide it into the oven. As it bakes, it becomes crispy and just a touch chewy, like the edge of a classic brownie. In other words, it's perfect.