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Gluten Free Easy Fall Do-Ahead Dinner for Eight Part 1 Fall Salad Recipe

It was my dear friend Jude’s birthday this month, and I decided to throw a little dinner party for her and our closest friends. Restaurants are great but honestly, there is nothing like having a group of great friends around your dinner table eating wonderful, home cooked food.

At past dinner parties I have thrown, I have hazy recall of the people there, snippets of hurried conversation as I am either going into or out of the kitchen. I have vivid recollection of being in the kitchen most of the time. And the problem is that I don’t mind. I am quite happy to let my husband carry on the hosting duties while I act like a combination cook and scullery maid.

But if this was to be the way I spend my dinner parties, why have them? Isn’t entertaining about sharing an experience with other people and not your stove?

So for Jude’s birthday dinner, I kept the menu super simple and with the exception of a few minor details, it was all made ahead of time.

I must confess I was worried that the dinner was TOO simple! I love to complicate things for myself and with no stress it just didn’t seem like I was doing anything! But I think that sometimes with menus as with fashion, restraint is the key to success.

I flushed this menu out with homemade pate served with gluten free crackers and another friend brought a birthday cake.

Easy Fall Do-Ahead Dinner for Eight

Fall Salad
Braised Short Ribs With Smashed Potatoes

This wonderful fall salad is simplicity itself and perfect for Fall with crisp pears. To cut down on last minute work, follow these tips:

Make your candied pistachios as much as 3 days before (hide them or you will have to make more, they are seriously addictive!)

Slice your pears 2 -3 hours ahead and keep in cold water with the juice of a lemon squeezed into it until ready to use. Drain and pat dry quickly with a towel.

Wash and prep your lettuces as much as the day before. Wrap in damp paper towels, put in a plastic bag and store in fridge until ready to use. To make even easier, use bagged lettuce.

Make the dressing as much as a day ahead. Make it in a jar and give the jar a vigorous shake just prior to dressing the salad.

Gluten Free Easy Fall Do-Ahead Dinner for Eight Part 1 Fall Salad Recipe


Fall Salad

¼ cup balsamic vinegar (I prefer white balsamic for this dressing)
¾ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave syrup or honey
1 large pinch of course salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
10 cups mixed sweet lettuces – bib, read leaf, etc.
4 pears — washed, seeded and thinly sliced vertically
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup candied pistachios (recipe follows)

Candied Pistachios

1 egg white – lightly beaten
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 pinch course salt
1 cup shelled pistachios


Fall Salad

Put vinegar, olive oil, mustard, agave syrup or honey, salt and pepper into a jar with a lid and shake well.

Gently toss lettuces with sliced pears into a large salad bowl. Add enough dressing to just coat. Top with dried cranberries and candied pistachios. Give one last gentle toss and serve.

Candied Pistachios

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

Whisk egg white with sugar and salt. Add pistachios and stir until well coated. Spread coated pistachios onto prepared baking sheet in an even layer.

Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until browned. Stir 2 -3 times during baking. Do not worry if the nuts seem to be kind of soft. They will harden as they cool off.

Let the Gluten Free Fall Salad cool.


This Gluten Free Easy Fall Do-Ahead Dinner for Eight Part 1 Fall Salad Recipe serves 8

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Categories:    Salads & Dressings

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Helene October 26, 2008 at 1:30 pm

What a great meal & this salad looks so tasty.


Anna October 27, 2008 at 1:46 am

Oh my god, those pistachios sound awesome! I can’t wait too make some myself! What a great idea to have them with the salad!


Jeanine October 27, 2008 at 6:45 am

I can’t wait to see the rest of the meal! That salad sounds fabulous!


anudivya October 27, 2008 at 9:11 am

Love the use of Agave… the salad looks yum!


taste memory October 27, 2008 at 12:52 pm

i can taste this meal already! that salad with the bibb + red leaf plus the pistachios sounds great. don’t u love cooking with agave?!


Maureen "Hold The Gluten" October 27, 2008 at 6:26 pm

“I love to complicate things for myself and with no stress it just didn’t seem like I was doing anything!” — This sentence CRACKED me up!! I think we are long lost sisters as I can totally relate :) Jude is very lucky to have such a good friend! PS: My b-day is Jan 17th. You know, just in case…


The Peanut Butter Boy October 27, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Excellent idea, I love hosting parties as well but it is so much running around, you don’t get to enjoy the guests.


glutenfreeforgood October 28, 2008 at 4:25 am

This salad looks awesome! I make a similar salad dressing, but not with balsamic vinegar. I usually use apple cider vinegar, but the balsamic adds a certain amount of “class” to the salad. This just sounds wonderful. I can’t wait for the next installments!


aforkfulofspaghetti October 29, 2008 at 5:24 am

Can I come to your next dinner party?? ;-)


Lynnylu October 30, 2008 at 4:20 am

A lovely Fall meal and a great one for celebration. I’ll have to try the salad recipe. It really looks tasty.


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