Catering for special diets? Here’s how to make your festive menu planning a breeze.
Words: Kristy Barratt
Ah, the silly season. This time of year is often synonymous with lots of rich, indulgent food; think flavoursome glazes and decadent desserts. Menu planning for a festive event is obviously serious stuff. And, if you’re having family or guests visit who have food allergies, intolerances or dietary requirements, it can create added stress. The good news? There are plenty of ways to easily adapt your menus to cater for everyone. We chat to the Village fresh food experts to find out more.
Australia’s summer weather makes seafood a must on any Christmas menu. Given it’s heart healthy, low in sodium and generally has high contents of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s ideal for pescatarian guests and anyone who is watching their kilojoule intake.
“At Christmas, everyone goes mad for crustaceans and prawns,” says Anthony Luciano from Seafood @ St Ives.
“We sell local lobsters from the Hawkesbury, which are caught the day before we put them on the shelves, our crabs come cooked and uncooked, and we sell Crystal Bay prawns, tiger prawns and extra-large green king prawns. When cooked on the barbie, they’re beautiful.”
Cooking tip: “With any seafood, keep it simple,” says Anthony. “Serve lobster with lemon juice, drizzle a dill and mustard sauce over salmon, and try a coriander, lime and chilli sauce with white fish, prawns or oysters.”
Buying lean meat is a breeze: there’s simply so much to choose from. Whether it’s low-fat turkey breast fillets from Fare Game, the 95 per cent lean heart-smart mince at Peters Meats, or good-for-you free-range pork at Prime Quality Meats, the options are endless.
“We sell a range of turkey products including whole turkeys, turkey buffets and turkey fillets, which come with or without the skin,” says Barry Straughan at Fare Game.
Over at Peters Meats you can order rolled loins of pork with or without stuffing, and the team will give you advice on cooking times as well as suggestions on different flavoured stuffings and marinades to pair with your heart-healthy meat.
Cooking tip: The length of time you cook your meat will depend on its weight, says Tim Whiting from Peters Meats. “For example if you have a 2kg weight, it should cook for 40 minutes per kilo at 180°C.”
“Snags”, as we love to call them, are a perennial favourite for quick and simple dinners over summer – and luckily all the sausages at Peters Meats and Prime Quality Meats are gluten free.
“Flavours include lamb and rosemary; wagyu beef; beef, garlic and wild mushroom; pork; and turkey, sage and onion,” says Erin Dolan from Prime Quality Meats. “Over Christmas we make pork chipolatas, too, and they look great when served around a turkey centrepiece.”
Cooking tip: For a gluten-free sauce for the turkey, try the cranberry and brandy sauce at Fare Game.
If you’re catering for vegetarians, head to Woolworths or Harris Farm Markets to find meat-free substitutes such as mini filo pastries filled with spinach and feta, vegie quiches or frittatas to slice and serve. Pick up dips and nibbles, including lots of raw vegies to add colour, such as capsicum, carrots, cucumber and mushrooms.
Cooking tip: Whip up a gluten-free and vegan salad with Tuscan kale, orange slices, toasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds and a vinaigrette.
Be extra prepared this year by planning your festive menus early, particularly the dessert. At Brendan Dewar Patisserie they’ll create personalised cakes – and there’s a great selection of treats that you can order ahead, too.