How to Cook for Dairy Eaters When You’re Dairy-Free
Having guests in your home can be especially challenging if you’re living dairy-free. Unless your guests also are dairy-free, they’re likely to be unfamiliar with some of the nondairy products you may be routinely eating in place of other common dairy products. They may, for example, expect to see cow’s milk in your refrigerator, not almond milk. And they may find cheeseless pizza a bit odd.
Offering choices is always a good idea when hosting visitors. Approach entertaining guests using some of the same strategies you’d use with your family. One way is to offer meals that include a range of options for customizing each dish.
Before they arrive, ask your guests about their food likes and dislikes to get a feel for how easy or challenging it may be to come up with meal ideas you can all enjoy. To the extent possible, try to identify nondairy options that everybody already likes.
If you have the extra time, you may consider creating two entree options — one with dairy and one without. Doing so isn’t the most practical step to take because with most families it usually makes more sense to fix one meal that everyone can enjoy. However, in some instances, you can make one dairy item and one nondairy item without much extra work. For example, on pizza night, make one pizza as cheesy as you want and the other dairy-free.
Because many ethnic cuisines are largely or entirely dairy-free, look to other parts of the world for inspiration. Good examples of dairy-free international dishes include Indonesian Saté and West African Peanut Soup. Other excellent options include the following:
Chinese cuisine: Dairy products are nearly nonexistent in Asian cuisine. A wide variety of stir-fried meals incorporate rice, vegetables, tofu, meats, and nondairy seasonings.
Japanese cuisine: Options include many varieties of sushi and tempura (vegetables or seafood dipped in a nondairy batter and lightly fried in oil).
Middle Eastern cuisine: Dishes you may want to try include hummus, falafel (deep-fried balls made from ground garbanzo beans) served in pita pockets, fattoush (a chopped green salad that includes toasted pieces of pita bread), and curried couscous salad made with saffron, raisins, slivered almonds, orange zest, onion, and spices.
Thumb through ethnic cookbooks to get other ideas, and surf the Web for hundreds of recipes to try.