A Little Word on Gluten-Free Friendsgiving
…So there may have been a cheese board with Cranberry Walnut bread I flew home with me from La Farm Bakery, in North Carolina, that I have kept frozen for a special occasion. And the evening may have ended with an artisan pumpkin pie baked that morning at Blue Duck Bakery in Long Island..
But other than that, the four-course Friends-Giving I hosted at my apartment last night featured an almost entirely gluten-free menu, with bold, seasonal flavors and a variety of healthy vegetarian dishes. Last year, I had a little vegan Thanksgiving, with Maple-Roasted Root Vegetables, Mushroom Apple Stuffing, and Cranberry Carrot Squares for dessert. So it seemed only fitting that this year, I address another dietary-restriction for the holiday.
For weeks, I’ve been wanting to host an intimate cocktail party with some of my best girlfriends. The right weekend finally arrived, and with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I could see no reason not to make the night all about them, and how thankful I am to have such rockstar friends.
The evening’s entree was a No-Noodle Lasagna; a seasonal riff on this classic LWB favorite. With my new mandolin, the process of preparing zucchini noodles was much less laborious then it had been all those years ago when I first shared the recipe.
My friend Hannah was on hand to help me prepare the Butternut Squash & Sage Lasagna. Big enough to serve eight, but healthy enough for seconds (with only 145 calories and less than 3 grams of fat per slice) this festive dish is perfect for entertaining.
We started by sautéing kale with red onion and light butter, until the onions began to brown and the kale wilted. In the same pan, we added a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, we roasted a pound and a half of cubed butternut squash, tossed with salt, pepper, and rubbed with fresh sage leaves. When the squash was cooked through, we added it to the kale and onions.
For the cheese filling, we mixed fat free ricotta with a quarter cup of light feta, one egg, and another tablespoon of fresh-chopped sage. Of course, I brought back the Stonewall Kitchen Butternut Squash Pasta sauce to double-up that fall flavor goodness. Layering the cheese mixture with the vegetables, butternut squash sauce, and zucchini noodles, we assembled the lasagna while we waited for the other guests to arrive.
Megan and Jess came with wine, Sparkling Cider, the Blue Duck Pumpkin Pie with whipped cream and – in not-so-traditional-fashion – a container of guacamole for gluten-free Trader Joes vegetable chips.
While the lasagna baked, the distinct smell of sage permeating through the oven door, we enjoyed La Farm bread with fat-free, gluten-free, cheddar cheese (and here marks the moment I learned that not all cheeses are gluten-free) fresh red grapes and gluten-free Colombian cheese bread from Bread Empire. As an accompaniment, I prepared a dijon-maple dipping sauce.
Just before the lasagna was ready to eat, Sally arrived with a first-course of Deviled Eggs with Pickle Relish, inspired by her mother’s famed recipe.
We ate until that moment when you are almost too-full: but not quite. In this dessert margin, we enjoyed the pie, and had a focus-group style tasting of Wink ice cream.
I mentioned this amazing frozen treat the other week, after discovering them at the Cure Celiac Launch Party. This Top 8 Free ice cream, which is also sugar-free and fat-free, comes in five flavors; and I happened to have a freezer full of each. The Cake Batter-flavor came out the clear winner when paired with the pumpkin pie, although the refreshing iced latte and cinnamon flavors were a close second.
Just around the corner is a full post about Wink, and the amazing team behind the healthy dessert (which packs a shocking 100 calories per pint).
This was not a very vegan holiday party. But with our pasta-free lasagna, deviled eggs, gluten-free bread and chips, everything-free frozen dessert, and a perfect rotation of red and white wines, we toasted to appreciating the people we love in our life. While the holidays should never be the only time you tell your friends how spectacular they are, it’s a great excuse to do so with a full stomach and many full glasses. And what better way to show someone how much you care than to share with them foods that are delicious and healthful and the kind of savory-sweet that warms you through even as the first snowflakes of the year fall outside?
And on the note of being grateful, I am very thankful for you – my readers – and for all the people who have supported my little writing endeavors and healthy eating explorations.
Have a happy friends-giving, everyone. May it be a filling and delicious time with the people who matter most.