As all celiacs can understand, I get nervous letting other people cook for me. I have a few close friends and family members that have been there with me since day 1 and know what precautions to take and what questions to ask to ensure a safe meal, but this past weekend we were invited over to a friends that we haven’t seen in a long time with his partner that we’d never met.
I didn’t want to be “that guy” and cause too much of a fuss (but as we know from my recent experience, not causing a fuss can lead to bad times). My husband was the one making the plans so I just asked him to casually mention, “Kelly has celiac disease so she’ll bring something she can eat too.” I try to mention this ahead of time to let them know of my dietary needs, but also to let them know they don’t need to worry about it – I’ll bring something safe so we can have a good time and not worry about the food side of it.
Turns out our friend’s partner is gluten intolerant so they’re used to cooking gluten-free. B even mentioned he makes a killer gluten-free beer battered fish…
Of course, this sends off all sorts of alarms for me. Gluten-intolerant can mean a lot of different things to different people. I thought it was a BBQ and I was kind of hoping to just bring something along and eat it safely without anyone noticing, but when people go out of their way to cook something special for me, I feel bad passing it up. (I know, I know, it’s my guts, but it’s still hard for me to be “that guy”.)
Luckily, it all worked out great! Not only was B’s partner gluten intolerant but her sister also has celiac disease, so they were more than aware of the difference. They are also good friends with the owner of the local gluten-free bakery who is also celiac, and they got the fish batter and some treats for dessert from there. The fish was amazing and best of all, I didn’t get sick and I didn’t have to be “that guy”. I did mention something to our friends about it being out of my comfort zone to eat at someone else’s house and they were more than willing to answer my questions and put me at ease. The next day our friend even texted my husband to ask how I was feeling. How sweet!
I did end up bringing something along for dinner. Something that would be a full meal for me if I didn’t feel safe, but that would also be of interest to everyone else. For me, that means my Mom’s good ol’ Layered Salad. I have no idea where this recipe came from but it has always been a hit throughout my life at potlucks and summer BBQs. And it was a hit again this time – our friends asked to keep the leftovers. Of course I didn’t mind. I made 2.
As always, don’t feel forced to stick to the recipe. I don’t use exact measurements anymore but can just eyeball it based on the size of dish I end up using. But for the sake of sharing, here’s a recipe.
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 – 1/2 red onion, diced finely
1/2 – 1 cup Miracle Whip (It has to be Miracle Whip. It just does. Apparently you can mix mayo with sugar, but that’s just not right, it has to be Miracle Whip.)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
2-4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
dash of paprika to finish it all off
Choose a large tupperware or serving dish of your choice. It could be a rectangle baking dish, a trifle bowl – bonus points if you can see all the layers – or like I did, I used a large tupperware so that it was easy to transport and leave behind the leftovers without worrying about getting the dish back.
Layer a thicker/larger portion of lettuce on the bottom, then layer the peppers, onions, and frozen peas. No need to defrost the peas, this salad is better after it sits so the peas will be defrosted by the time you eat it.
Spoon dollops of Miracle Whip over the salad and gently spread it out until it covers the entire salad with a thin layer. This is kind of like icing a cake where you need to use enough Miracle Whip that it spreads across without picking up the ingredients from below. If your salad is longer/flatter you may need more dressing then if it is short/deep.
Once the Miracle Whip is spread across, sprinkle the cheese and bacon over top. Lay out the sliced eggs, again the number of eggs will be determined by the size of your dish, and sprinkle with paprika. Let the salad sit for a few hours in the fridge before serving. With this salad lots of leftovers isn’t a bad thing because it stays good in the fridge for a few days.
The first scoop is always the hardest to get out – use a sturdy spoon and dig down deep and get all the veggies. Because as my brother pointed out: “Without the lettuce, it’s just dip”. 😉