We hosted a dinner guest last week who was on a complicated and restricted diet. He was undergoing a 30-day allergy testing period due to a variety of health issues and was unable to eat dairy, grain, acidic foods, eggs, sugar, most animal fats, fruit, alcohol, chilis or anything highly spiced.
So this presented a bit of a problem for the cook.
But I was determined to offer a tasty meal, and I did not want our guest to suffer through a piece of plain boiled chicken while the rest of us enjoyed something delicious and different. My husband was highly skeptical that I would pull off something that checked all the boxes, but it worked out well. Our guest and my family enjoyed the following menu and did not feel deprived in any way.
In addition to accommodating a restricted diet, the following dishes also work for Passover. And the table was bursting with a variety of bright colors from the red cabbage, orange sweet potato/carrots and the green of the cilantro, so it looked beautiful.
For dessert, I just made some herbal tea with honey, but any Passover-friendly sweet would complement this meal nicely. A simple sorbet, some chocolate-dipped fruit, or poached pears would work. Just avoid coconut macaroons because after the coconut chicken that could be a bit monotonous.
Coconut Cilantro Chicken
This dish was simple to make and delicious to eat. Liberal use of salt enhanced the flavor greatly. If you are one of those people who cannot tolerate the taste of cilantro, parsley would be a reasonable substitute.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth
Heat your oven to 325 degrees. Place the coconut oil in a Pyrex baking dish with a cover and roll the chicken pieces in the oil to coat them thoroughly. Sprinkle the chicken generously with salt and cumin, and then top it with coconut and cilantro. Pour the broth around the edges, cover and cook for about 1.5 hours until the chicken is tender and falling apart.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
I had planned to serve brown rice alongside the chicken, but discovered when my guest arrived that he was off grains, too. I scoured my larder and found four sweet potatoes and a handful of carrots. These provided a colorful, delicious, healthy carbohydrate in lieu of the forbidden rice. My husband and I laced our mash with some harissa that I had in the fridge to add some flavor, which gave a nice kick. Sriracha, adobo sauce, pesto, or flavored butter would do the same.
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 carrots, ends trimmed, rinsed and peeled, if desired
Water to cover
1 teaspoon salt
In a large pot, boil the vegetables, covered, in salted water until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and mash the vegetables. Season as desired or serve plain.
Serves 4 generously
Roasted Red Cabbage
I had two small beautiful heads of red cabbage from the Sunday farmers market, which added a colorful and tasty element to this menu. The leftovers were great tossed in a green salad for dinner the next night.
Green cabbage would work fine with this preparation, as would just about any vegetable. I did not use any pepper due to my guest’s restriction, and the results were plenty tasty, but normally I would grind a hefty dose of black pepper over the top of this before placing in the oven.
This cooked conveniently along with the chicken; placing it on the top rack of the oven gave the cabbage a slight char in some spots, which added a smoky, tasty crunch.
1 large or 2 small heads cabbage,
sliced and cored
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
Heat your oven to 325 degrees. Lay the cabbage slices on a cooking tray and drizzle them with oil and salt. Roast the cabbage in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serves 4 generously JN