Dinner Party Ideas that Will Satisfy Everyone

By Meryl Rothstein, Bon Appétit

You know the feeling. You've been planning a dinner party for days...and then come the requests. From a friend who can't eat gluten. A co-worker who gave up meat. His wife, who doesn't eat anything that wasn't grown organically on a rooftop in Brooklyn. The upswing in restrictive diets means it's more likely than ever that a dinner guest will ask you to skip the fill-in-the-blank delicious ingredient.

But being a good host means making everyone feel like you cooked the meal just for them. So instead of fussing with substitutes like brown rice pasta or BBQ tempeh, pick something that satisfies their requests more discreetly. Like this shepherd's pie. It's vegetarian and gluten-free, but still has the decadence, the heartiness--and the deliciousness--to please all those meat-eating, gluten-tolerating guests you invited, too. Check out below to see our menu and get advice from a chef whose specialty is diet restrictions.

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Entertaining is about more than the food you put on the table, so we turned to Abby Fammartino for tips. She runs Abby's Table, a gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free supper club in--where else?--Portland, Oregon.

Give a Heads Up Tell the relevant guests in advance that the meal will be "safe." They won't have to spend the evening wondering what they can and can't eat, and your announcing to everyone that tonight's meal is gluten-free isn't great salesmanship.

Relax; Hors d'Oeuvres are Easy Classics like olives, nuts, and crudités with hummus are all naturally gluten-free and vegetarian.

Dessert, Too Don't worry, you don't have to bake something with xanthan gum. Everyone loves gelato or sorbet.

Channel MacGyver Got a last-minute dietary request? Pull off some plating magic. If the guest can only eat the vegetable side dish, cut the veggies in a way that you can stack them, then sprinkle crushed nuts on top and add some hastily-made rice.

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Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
10 servings

Lentils and fresh and dried mushrooms give this vegetarian casserole its meaty character. You can prepare most of it in advance and bake it just before your guests arrive.

Photo by Romulo YanesPhoto by Romulo Yanes
3 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2-2 cups whole milk, warmed
Kosher salt

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3/4 cup brown or French green lentils
6 garlic cloves, divided, plus 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cups coarsely chopped onions
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 cups dry white wine
8 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons gluten-free white miso or 2 teaspoons gluten-free tamari soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
12 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled fall vegetables (such as squash, turnips, carrots, and parsnips)
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed, halved
2 4-inch rosemary sprigs
2 cups bite-size pieces mixed fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives, and sage)

Preheat oven to 450°. Bake potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel. Press potatoes through a ricer, food mill, or colander into a large bowl. Add butter; stir until well blended. Stir in milk. Season to taste with salt. DO AHEAD Potatoes can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool, press plastic wrap directly onto potatoes, and chill.

Soak dried porcini in 3 cups hot water; set aside. Combine lentils, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp. salt, and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender but not mushy, 15-20 minutes. Drain lentils and discard garlic.

Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 12 minutes. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste is caramelized, 2-3 minutes.

Add bay leaves and wine; stir, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in porcini, slowly pouring porcini soaking liquid into pan but leaving any sediment behind. Bring to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Stir in broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 45 minutes.

Strain mixture into a large saucepan and bring to a boil; discard solids in strainer. Stir cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl to dissolve. Add cornstarch mixture; simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in miso. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss vegetables and pearl onions with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil, 5 garlic cloves, and rosemary sprigs in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Divide between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast, stirring once, until tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer garlic cloves to a small bowl; mash well with a fork and stir into sauce. Discard rosemary. DO AHEAD Lentils, sauce, and vegetables can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.

Arrange lentils in an even layer in a 3-qt. baking dish; set dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Toss roasted vegetables with fresh mushrooms and chopped herbs; layer on top of lentils. Pour sauce over vegetables. Spoon potato mixture evenly over.

Bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Treviso Salad with Orange Vinaigrette and Manchego
Recipe by The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen
8-10 servings

Can't find Treviso, the long, thin variety of radicchio? Substitute endive or any other member of the bitter chicory family to play off the sweet citrus dressing.

Photo by Romulo YanesPhoto by Romulo Yanes
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
4 teaspoons honey
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 pound Treviso, cut through the core into thin wedges
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1 4-ounce wedge Manchego cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Whisk oil, orange juice, honey, and vinegar in a large bowl until well blended. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Add Treviso to bowl with vinaigrette; toss to coat. Divide among plates. Scatter walnuts over. Using a vegetable peeler, shave cheese onto salads. Garnish with parsley and orange zest.

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