Special Dietary Requirements – Can Rice Help?

I was turning 30 in a week and I decided instead of sitting around in my house and just hiding away depressed, I was going to see out my twenties in style.

This was going to be a big party and I wanted to do everything properly.  I bought invitations, new plates and cutlery, a few bits of equipment for my kitchen including a bread maker, electric wine cooler and a rice cooker.

I was determined to cook everything from scratch. So the menu would need some planning.

The list of guests was sorted and invitations sent out. Two of my friends have special dietary requirements.  One of my friends has a gluten free diet and the other is a vegetarian.

What to cook?  One of my pet dislikes is treating people with dietary requirements like the poor relations. It really isn’t fair. This party was going to be different, I love my friends very much and I want them to enjoy the food as much as everyone else.

I planned to have a table where everything was clearly marked up. I would make enough of the gluten free and vegetarian food, so that everyone else could eat it too.

I decided to make gluten free flat breads with avocado and feta, vegetable sushi rolls, 8 veg tagine, spinach and cheese falafels, along with the usual dips and chips.

I also put together the following gluten free recipe (this went down so well with everyone at the party).

Gluten-free Party Food: Wild Rice Salad 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 2 cups of vegan/veggie stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsps sea salt
  • 3 rainbow carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1/2 cup raw organic walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

The Dressing:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • zest from one large orange
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (may also use rice or balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 tbsps finely minced shallot
  • 4 tsps honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt (to taste)

Directions:

Follow the package directions to make your rice with the broth, water, and salt.

While the rice is cooking, make the dressing by adding all of the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and whisking to combine. Check the seasoning and, if needed, adjust to taste. You may need to add more lemon, vinegar, or honey, depending on your ingredients.

Once the rice is cooked, as mentioned earlier, I invested in one of the best rice cookers online, allow the rice to cool a little, then add the carrots, diced apples, pomegranate seeds and dried cranberries. Toss to incorporate all the ingredients. Dress while still warm with the citrus dressing, spooning it a few tablespoons at a time to be sure it’s dressed to your liking. Add the chopped toasted walnuts at the end.

The main vegetarian dish I made was as follows:

Leek, Cheese and Potato Pasties

Ingredients:

  • 2 small potatoes, approx. 300g/11oz), cut into 1cm cubes
  • knob of butter, split in half lengthways and finely sliced
  • 3 thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • Gluten free flour for dusting
  • 500g block shortcrust pastry
  • 140g

Directions: 

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for 5-8 mins until tender, ensuring they are still holding their shape. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and thyme and soften for 10-12 mins. Drain potatoes and add to the leeks with the mustard and plenty of seasoning. Stir in the cream and leave to cool a little.

Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 10 cent coin. Use a side plate or a bowl as a template to cut out 6 x 15cm circles. Mix the cheese with the leek mixture and pile a mound of the mix onto the center of each pastry circle. Brush around edges with a little egg, then bring edges together and crimp with your fingers to seal.

Place pasties on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, brush with the remaining egg and bake for 40-45 mins until golden brown. Serve warm or leave to cool.

I served up all of the food as planned and it went down so well.  I spent half of my time at the party explaining the recipes and the fact my gorgeous friends with dietary requirements didn’t feel singled out was brilliant.

The party was amazing.  What a lovely way to spend my birthday, with all of my favourite people.