Holiday meals to satisfy every palate

Holiday meals to satisfy every palate

Written by: Angela Taraskiewicz
November 17, 2018


Butter, cream, eggs, flour, nuts. ‘Tis the season for making lists (and checking them twice). For most people, these common ingredients top our grocery lists because they are called for in almost all of our holiday recipes, many of which have been in families for generations and evoke powerful memories of the joy and contentment of days gone by. 

But for many others, this is a list of common allergens that can, at worst, trigger a life-threatening anaphylaxis, and at best cause terrible indigestion or hives. Traditional holiday menus often exclude those with food restrictions from much of the meal. If you find yourself cooking for friends and family who have restricted diets, either due to food allergy or intolerance, religious belief, or a simple desire to adopt a cleaner, greener diet, you may find yourself asking: What can I possibly serve that will satisfy so many different requirements? 

Kate Rather, the head chef and owner of Green Is Good by Kate in Crown Point, has been serving up delicious allergy- and lifestyle-friendly fare since 2013. She earned her bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism from Purdue University, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and has interned under Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill in Chicago. Here, she shares simple culinary tips for crafting holiday menus that welcome everyone to the table. 

What’s your best advice for how to accommodate restricted diets during the holidays? My main goal is for as many people as possible to be able to enjoy my food. When I sit down to work with a catering client, dietary restrictions are always the first thing I ask about. A lot of the time, the people who are hosting a party or an event do not themselves have food allergies or restrictions but their guests do, and I am able to talk them through some things they may not have considered.  

Photo Credit: Amy Sheree
Photo Credit: Amy Sheree

Butter, cream, eggs, flour, nuts. ‘Tis the season for making lists (and checking them twice). For most people, these common ingredients top our grocery lists because they are called for in almost all of our holiday recipes, many of which have been in families for generations and evoke powerful memories of the joy and contentment of days gone by. 

But for many others, this is a list of common allergens that can, at worst, trigger a life-threatening anaphylaxis, and at best cause terrible indigestion or hives. Traditional holiday menus often exclude those with food restrictions from much of the meal. If you find yourself cooking for friends and family who have restricted diets, either due to food allergy or intolerance, religious belief, or a simple desire to adopt a cleaner, greener diet, you may find yourself asking: What can I possibly serve that will satisfy so many different requirements? 

Kate Rather, the head chef and owner of Green Is Good by Kate in Crown Point, has been serving up delicious allergy- and lifestyle-friendly fare since 2013. She earned her bachelor’s degree in hospitality and tourism from Purdue University, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and has interned under Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill in Chicago. Here, she shares simple culinary tips for crafting holiday menus that welcome everyone to the table. 

What’s your best advice for how to accommodate restricted diets during the holidays? My main goal is for as many people as possible to be able to enjoy my food. When I sit down to work with a catering client, dietary restrictions are always the first thing I ask about. A lot of the time, the people who are hosting a party or an event do not themselves have food allergies or restrictions but their guests do, and I am able to talk them through some things they may not have considered.  

Some simple substitutions go a long way. For instance, I use oil or a vegan margarine instead of butter to make a recipe suitable for both vegans and people with dairy allergies. I’ll use gluten-free flour, cornstarch and panko in place of wheat flour or breadcrumbs to make a recipe safe for people with celiac disease as well as people who are gluten-free.   

Don’t substitutions like that make the recipes taste bland? I like to bust people’s myths of thinking that vegan food and healthier food is unflavorful and not good. My recipes use simple ingredients, but my techniques highlight the flavors of the ingredients I use. My produce is all organic and I try to use as much local produce as possible, and that makes a huge difference in the flavor of things.  

My seasonal produce comes from two local farms: Lane’s End Farm and Five Hands Farm. I get so excited when they drop their deliveries off. I love the beauty of the produce itself. I love slicing into a tomato and seeing the different designs in it. Vegetables can get such a bad rap but they’re so awesome. 

What kind of techniques do you use to bring out the flavors of the vegetables in your dishes? Roasting gives vegetables a wonderful flavor and the caramelization gives the flavors more depth, as in my recipe for Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash. I roast everything separately, whereas a lot of people try to roast everything together at the same time. By roasting the ingredients separately you can make sure you cook each one to perfection. This is my go-to vegan Thanksgiving entrée. 

Doing all that prep at home, especially at this busy time of the year, can get to be a bit overwhelming. Can our readers order some of these things directly from you? Yes, and that’s why I love what I do. You don’t have to sacrifice eating healthier for convenience. People are trying to make positive change in their lives and I help them stay on track. Everyone wants to live a more positive life and it can be hard to do. Being welcoming is at the heart of everything I do. The holidays are about being with family and enjoying your time together, and you shouldn’t have to go crazy trying to figure out what to make for someone with food allergies or special diets. 

FIND IT HERE 

Green is Good by Kate
186 S West St, Crown Point
greenisgoodbykate.com 

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash
Yield: 4 

2 medium acorn squash (2 to 2-1/4 pounds each) 
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons thyme, divided
2 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 teaspoon garlic
1 cup white quinoa, rinsed well 
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar  

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  

Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Arrange the halves on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper, flesh-side up.  

Brush the flesh side of the squash halves with some oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of thyme, and a few grinds of pepper. Put the squash flesh-side down on the baking pan. Roast until the squash is fork-tender, 50 to 60 minutes.  

Place trimmed Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet, and place on center oven rack.  

Photo Credit: Amy Sheree
Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash
Photo Credit: Amy Sheree
Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash

Roasted Stuffed Acorn Squash
Yield: 4 

2 medium acorn squash (2 to 2-1/4 pounds each) 
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons thyme, divided
2 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
1 teaspoon garlic
1 cup white quinoa, rinsed well 
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar  

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  

Cut each squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard the seeds. Arrange the halves on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper, flesh-side up.  

Brush the flesh side of the squash halves with some oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of thyme, and a few grinds of pepper. Put the squash flesh-side down on the baking pan. Roast until the squash is fork-tender, 50 to 60 minutes.  

Place trimmed Brussels sprouts, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet, and place on center oven rack.  

Roast in the preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes, shaking pan every 5 to 7 minutes for even browning. Reduce heat when necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be darkest brown when done. Adjust seasoning with kosher salt, if necessary. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot, add the quinoa and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 20 to 24 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and stir in the cranberries, roasted Brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons thyme, and remaining grapeseed oil.  

Stuff the squash halves with the quinoa mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Note: The squash may be baked and stuffed the day before and refrigerated. To reheat, cover the baking dish loosely with foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven, checking the squash every 5 minutes until it is hot. 

Seasonal Fruit Crisp 

Yield: 8  

Oat Topping 

⅓ cup gluten-free flour 
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats, divided 
½ cup (1 stick) chilled Earth Balance vegan butter, cut into pieces 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Fruit Filling 

8 cups seasonal fruit (apples, pears, cherries, peaches)
1 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt  

Pulse flour, brown sugar, salt, and ¾ cup oats in a food processor to blend. Pulse in butter until no dry spots remain. Transfer to a bowl and work in cinnamon and remaining ¼ cup oats with your fingers. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss fruit with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.

Photo Credit: Amy Sheree
Seasonal Fruit Crisp
Photo Credit: Amy Sheree
Seasonal Fruit Crisp

Seasonal Fruit Crisp 

Yield: 8  

Oat Topping 

⅓ cup gluten-free flour 
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats, divided 
½ cup (1 stick) chilled Earth Balance vegan butter, cut into pieces 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Fruit Filling 

8 cups seasonal fruit (apples, pears, cherries, peaches)
1 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons gluten-free flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt  

Pulse flour, brown sugar, salt, and ¾ cup oats in a food processor to blend. Pulse in butter until no dry spots remain. Transfer to a bowl and work in cinnamon and remaining ¼ cup oats with your fingers. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss fruit with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.

Transfer mixture to a 1-1/2-quart baking dish or individual dishes. Scatter oat topping over, place on a baking sheet, and bake until bubbling and topping is golden brown, 60–70 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 1 hour.