Cheap and Easy Gluten-Free Summer Recipes

chocolate muffin with whipped cream and strawberry

If you know a thing or two about ol’ Lamps, you know that summer is my favorite time of year, and I love hosting parties as much as I love attending them. What you might not know is a year ago I found out I’m allergic to wheat. I’ll spare you the details of my sinus struggles and roller-coaster gastro-rides but the point is, it can be overwhelming to find things to make or bring to a gathering when you take allergies into consideration. Never fear, ol’ Lamps is here to help! If you’re entertaining in your home, or just being a cool guest at the hottest BBQ, I’ve compiled some summer staples that will please everyone, dietary restrictions or not, and your wallet will barely notice a difference.

THE SHINDIG: Weekend Potluck Brunch
THE SOLUTION: Fruit Salad, Gluten-Free Muffins, Mimosas

Fruit salad is versatile, healthy, and easy to prepare in a jiffy. All you have to do is rinse, slice, and toss. You can use a combo of any of your favorites, but here’s my go-to:

1 lb. Organic Strawberries, quartered
1 lb. pack of Blueberries
2 kiwis, quartered and sliced
Melon medley (most grocery stores will sell pre-packed prepared assorted melon)
1 lb. red and/or green grapes
2 ripe bananas, sliced (mix one in, and use one for garnishing on top)

Mix fruit well, and squeeze a bit of lemon to preserve color and freshness. Want to get fancy? Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint!

SHAMELESS HOT TIP: Paying for grapes by the pound? Pick your bunch, then pull them off the stem before putting them in the produce bag. You will shave off a good chunk of change, and if anyone questions you, say it’s for your Aunt Rita. No one questions an Aunt Rita.

There are plenty of gluten free muffin recipes out there, but my absolute favorite is the already-prepared Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix from Fresh & Easy. These were such a hit at my last Potluck brunch, I wished I’d made a double batch. 

It wouldn’t be a true Brunch without the Mimosa: orange juice and your favorite sparkling wine. A fun alternative is substituting 8oz. of your favorite hard cider, and topping it off with a healthy splash of juice. For the non-drinkers? Replace the cider with sparkling lemonade!

THE SOLUTION: Salads, Dogs, Gluten-Free Beer

If The Simpson’s have taught us anything, it’s that you don’t win friends with salad. I confidently challenge that catchy tune with these healthy & tasty recipes. Pasta salad is a summer party staple, and Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta really holds up, as far as taste and texture. I love mixing Small Shells with Veggie Curls for a more colorful dish, and the trick is to cook it at the minimum suggested time so it remains firm. The possibilities are endless with any combination of fresh veggies, beans, or cured meats, but below is my own favorite recipe I’ve been making since I was 17, and it’s enough to feed a small army.

1 lb. quinoa pasta, cooked, drained 
1 small bottle of Italian dressing (toss with pasta immediately after draining)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 persian cucumbers, chopped
3 oz. green olives, sliced
3 oz. black olives, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, grated or peeled into curls

Combine all ingredients and season with salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne, celery seed, and paprika to taste. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Another favorite of mine is Rachael Ray’s Macho Gazpacho Salad. It’s always a hit, and it’s got a nice kick to it. Make it extra summery by adding chunks of seeded watermelon, or go Greek and add crumbled feta!

Hot dogs are a no-brainer, and you can find a safe list here. Don’t forget the mustard and pickles, and Udi’s makes a nice gluten-free bun. There are also a surprising number of gluten-free beers out there that actually taste good – keep quiet about it and your friends may not even notice the difference. Wanna get fancy? Mix 8oz. of gluten-free beer with 8oz. of lemonade and have a summer shandy!

THE SHINDIG: Summer Cocktail Party
THE SOLUTION: Make it Mediterranean

This is where living close to a Farmer’s Market comes in handy – there is almost always a charming Greek family selling delicious homemade spreads. You can’t go wrong with cool dips like hummus, baba ganoush, and artichoke dip (offer warm pita for “the norms” if you’re hosting, or just buy pita chips if you’re traveling). Persian cucumbers are a delightful snack and perfect for dipping when sliced lengthwise, and stuffed dolmas are a real treat if you can find them home-made. No Farmer’s Market near you? Trader Joe’s has everything you’ll need, and their olive tapenade rivals my Greek market man’s recipe. 

Another classic crowd-pleasing appetizer is Bruschetta, and Udi’s White Sandwich bread makes for a great base. Just toast until golden brown, cut into quarters and serve around this bowl of tomato heaven:

4-5 ripened roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed, finely chopped or crushed through a press
1 fist full of fresh basil, finely chopped
3oz. chopped Sicilian green olives (optional, but delicious)
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
Fresh or coarse ground pepper (to taste)

Mix all ingredients and coat with your favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add a pinch of sugar to balance acidity, and a touch of Balsamic vinegar (optional). 

Serve a nice, crisp white wine (I love a nice Vinho Verde from Portugal – always cheap and delicious, with a little sparkle to it so it feels fancy) and have a fun cocktail ready to go in a pitcher. I like mixing Smirnoff vodka (be sure to check this list, as not all vodka is gluten-free) with two parts Trader Joe’s Fresh Limeade, one part club soda. Garnish with fresh lemon and lime wheels, and Opa!

Whether you’re gluten intolerant, straight up Celiac, or just jumping on the latest “diet fad”, this summer fare is sure to please everyone. But, um, if you are just jumping on the diet fad? Please jump off and ENJOY THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE OF FOOD YOU WERE GIVEN! Or maybe just, like, eat a slice of pizza for me and tell it I miss it? 

Erin Lampart is a comedian and story-teller living in Los Angeles with her cool dog, Jan. Part-time waitress and full-time dork, you can follow her on Twitter @ThatsSoLampy


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