How to Feed a Gluten-Free Dinner Guest

by Lauren on September 7, 2012

I have a good friend who recently found out she has a fairly significant gluten intolerance.  It came about a year ago when she realized her constant discomfort and bloat was only getting worse, and after months of tests and doctor’s visits, it was determined that gluten was the culprit to her troubles.

The gluten-free lifestyle is becoming much more main stream than it used to be and while you may not be suffering from Celiac yourself, it’s a pretty safe bet that you know of someone that is.

At first, the thought of eliminating grains from your diet sounds daunting and just plain undesirable.  Imagine a life without pasta, bagels, a good piece of cake, it’s almost depressing.  But when your health is compromised, you will do just about anything to ensure that you are always feeling at your best.

My friend was coming over for dinner last night and I immediately started going through a mental check-list of what I could not include in the menu.  I often feel that when anyone says they practice a certain diet (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free) most people assume that their restrictions are far more difficult to cater to than they really are.  If you have someone coming over that doesn’t eat meat, don’t make meat.  It’s really that simple.

In my case, my friend doesn’t eat gluten, so I needed to think of a meal that was wheat-free and I absolutely did not want to give you all another salad, although I admit I came pretty darn close.

Quinoa is always my go-to when it comes to gluten-free and I honestly feel that you can center almost any meal with this ingredient. It’s such an excellent substitute for pasta or just about any other cooked grain and contains a huge source of protein and fiber.  It’s basically a nutritional powerhouse and a cook’s best friend.

Now, back to this dish.  I began throwing some ideas together in my head, did a quick survey of the ingredients I had on hand and came up with this….

4.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten Free Roasted Tomato Broccoli Quinoa Casserole with Chicken Sausage
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 cups sliced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can chic peas
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 4 Italian flavored chicken sausage, chopped (gluten free, organic)
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup Almond Basil Pesto (see below)
  • ¼ cup reduced fat feta cheese
  1. Roast the tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 450 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.
  2. On a separate sheet, lay out drained chic peas and chopped broccoli. Season with cooking spray, salt and pepper. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.
  3. In a large skillet, brown chopped chicken sausage for about 5 minutes. Add spinach and saute for an additional 2 minutes or until spinach begins to wilt.
  4. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, roasted tomatoes, basil pesto, chic peas and broccoli, chicken sausage and spinach. Mix. Fold in feta cheese.
  5. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and evenly spread quinoa mixture in dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The roasted tomatoes were a last minute decision. Normally, I don’t have the patience to roast tomatoes but it’s always well worth it.

Simply lay out your chopped tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle oil on top.

Next, season with salt and pepper liberally.

When the tomatoes come out, they will look withered, charred and mushy.  It’s a good thing!

The broccoli and chic peas also need to be roasted for the best flavor in this dish.

While that is all cooking, get to work on your other ingredients.  The chicken sausage cooks in no time!

Once everything is cooked through, this is when you get to mix it all together and see the flavors magically marry into one beautiful dish.

Now, let’s stop here for a second.  Looking at all of these flavors, I imagine it would be just fine without adding any additional elements; however, I wanted to impress so I may have kicked it up a notch with the pesto.  To be honest, the pesto alone is worth making if not for this dish, to be eaten by itself.  Fresh pesto is a wonderful thing and if you have an abundance of basil as I do, you’ll be looking for a good reason to use it up.

Consider this your reason.

Almond Basil Pesto 


  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2-4 tablespoons water (adjust as needed)


Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and combine until smooth.

Like I said, so worth it!

Once everything is combine, simply transfer your quinoa into a large baking dish.

I think one of the reasons why I don’t make casseroles more often is because they never look appealing but one thing is for sure, they always taste amazing!

My friend was delighted with this meal.  Aside from the little extra prep work, it couldn’t be easier.

So the next time you are looking for an easy but delicious gluten-free dish, try quinoa and go from there.  This dish is completely adaptable so feel free to add/eliminate the ingredients that you like.


If you are gluten-free (or if you were) what is the one food you would miss the most?


19 thoughts on “How to Feed a Gluten-Free Dinner Guest”

  1. Rachel says:

    I just recently found out I have a gluten intolerance this past summer… I had the same thing as your friend.. the constant bloat/discomfort.. it was awful until my friend and Doctor suggest I try going gluten free. It’s made such a huge difference in my life! Finally all the stomach aches are gone 😀 One food I do really miss though is Italian bread… my mom makes the best italian dip for it and I find myself drooling over it haha

  2. I am gluten free and I love this recipe! So perfect for a gluten free guest! I miss bread the most! I was such a carboholic before being diagnosed so in a way it was a blessing in disguise!

  3. I would definitely miss bread. I know they make gluten free breads (several of which I enjoy anyway!) but there’s some bread that you just couldn’t recreate gluten free and that I would really miss.

  4. I am GF, and this recipe looks fabulous! Thanks so much for looking out for us GF peeps! 😉

  5. glidingcalm says:

    I have a friend that is GF and we always cook with Quinoa! It’s such a great grain! We also love Mexican food dinners together with corn-based chips and tortillas, risotto, brown rice, or a GF pasta salad! We can even eat pho and sushi together…granted she watch out for the soy sauce!! Also, it helps that she loves to cook!

    LOVE YOU, great post! That dish looks AWESOME

  6. Betsy says:

    I have Celiac and have been gluten free for over a decade. It is amazing how at first it feels like a huge hill to climb, but now, I never even think twice about my options. I miss good cereal, that’s for sure. Quinoa is great, but so are potatoes (sweet, baby purple and baked) and rice of all sorts! Love the new blog look!

  7. Laura says:

    I have been gluten-free since February and I definitely miss Panera’s cinnamon crunch bagel as well as my homemade soft pretzels ( But I have been able to adjust to so many more foods that I never thought I’d like, such as spaghetti squash.

  8. Holy macaroni! Your blog looks so different!!! I didn’t think it was your blog for a second 🙂
    The meal looks really delicious, so fresh and healthy! Thanks for sharing it with us

    xo Emilie @ Hungry Delights

  9. Allegra says:

    Love quinoa, and the new header/blog format! Looks brilliant 🙂

  10. Wow, it looks like you put a lot of work into that dinner and it looks delicious! I thank my lucky stars I don’t have a gluten intolerance-cereal is my favorite food. But I’ve heard that those who suddenly have to make the adjustement, do so easily after a while. There’s a lot of good resources and recipes out there

  11. Lydia says:

    Hi Lauren,

    I love your blog but I think you plagarize some of your recipes. I have seen numerous quinoa recipes and your Chobani recipe in fitness magazines. I don’t think it is morally ethical to accept money when you are using someone elses’ work. I would be careful because it isn’t right or fair. I noticed other people commenting this as well. What are your thoughts?

    1. Lauren says:

      Can you please send me the references that you are speaking of. Which Chobani recipe and please include the links from Fitness Magazine to these recipes. In no way do I EVER intend to plagiarize any of my recipes. My photos and recipe development is always that of my own unless I am taking the original idea from another source, which I always credit.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Agreed Lydia.

      Clean Eating Mag for starters…….

  12. Katie says:

    I’m Celiac and at first the gluten free diet seemed overwhelming to adapt to but now that I’ve been on it for several months it has helped tremendously…my stomach would agree too! 🙂 One thing I miss is cake at weddings,special occasions,etc.

  13. Holly says:

    This was delicious! I will definitely be checking out your other recipes based on how great this one was. Everything you eat looks so fresh and tasty. 🙂

    1. Lauren says:

      Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  14. Gayle says:

    I have a family member who must eat a gluten free diet so am often looking for suggestions. While this recipe sounds tasty, the photo is quite unappetizing.

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