Super crispy roast potatoes. Gluten free and vegan. Ready to serve

At this time of year you might be having guests round and you may have some pernickity guests coming over. I’m usually one of them so empathise. If I am invited to someones house for dinner I don’t expect a full on gluten free, vegan meal – I go to enjoy the company – and I will offer to take at least one course too. I’m happy with Crispy Roast Potatoes, Houmous etc. However you may want to cater for everyone. Everything on is gluten free and vegan but that might not be enough… What if your guest has more dietary restrictions?

Top tips for a hosting a dinner party with special requirements…

  • Ask. First thing to do is ask your guest what they can and can’t eat – they know best. There are also some other very helpful specialist websites out there that will clearly articulate dietary requirements for you
  • Keep it simple! The menu and the cooking. Don’t make something you have never tried before and don’t make something that takes three hours to prepare. Whatever you are serving for a starter make a free-from version – if that is not feasible put together an avocado and rocket salad. If you are serving a roast make the potatoes vegetables suitable for everyone. Easy and tasty. You can buy free-from gravy in most supermarkets now, make up a separate jug. For dessert try the stand-by staple Swedish Glace from your local supermarket. You can fancy it up by mixing in Home Made Honeycomb, glace fruit soaked in triple sec or an off-the-shelf gluten free, vegan chocolate bar.
  • Plan, organise and prepare things in advance. Plan the menu, shop for it, draw up a schedule for everything you will cook. That will highlight any problems or questions you need to ask
  • Check the ingredients of everything. There are hidden ingredients in your store cupboard essentials that you might not even have considered to be rogue elements of your dinner party: vegetable stock powder, baking powder etc. often contain gluten. You will be surprised how many things contain unnecessary milk, eggs or gluten. Mind boggling.
  • Don’t stress. You are not hosting the Queen, you do not have to beast yourself to make five perfect courses from scratch. If you can buy off-the-shelf items for a couple of courses fine! Dinner is a social event you are not being marked out of 10. Relax and enjoy the company of your guests.
  • Never, ever serve stuffed peppers. Or stuffed vegetables of any description. They are time consuming, tasteless, dry and horrible. Whatever recipe you follow they are foul. Stay away from fruit salad too. A pointless waste of time and effort that muddies fruit so you can’t taste any of it and it then turns in to a slightly fizzy bowl of mush.