Yep. You heard me. I’m not backing down. It’s a hot take, I know, but I’m standing by it: the best appetizers that can grace your Super Bowl spread are meatless. Forget the wings. Ditch the beef in your tacos. Abandon the bacon-wrapped dates. Come with me to the dark side of the buffet table.
I can already hear the protests and passionate defenses of the beloved chicken wing. But I promise. I didn’t come to this fight without some good proof in the form of my crowd-pleaser recipe favorites.
I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years now, and I have had a lot of meatless food, some of it good and some of it bad. Despite the plethora of options available these days, I’m not incredibly passionate about any particular plant-based meat substitute, though they have their place. Instead, I prefer to treat vegetables as I would meat and get creative with my cooking.
And herein lies my challenge to you today. This year, when you’re setting out your spread, whether it be for you and your roommate or you and the five people who are back in your bubble, skip the meats. Opt for veggies, and give them the royal treatment. You just might be surprised at how they shine.
Need a leg up? Here’s your cheat sheet.
1. Make vegetable wings.
Hear me out: most things taste amazing when breaded and deep-fried. That includes most vegetables. Instead of putting out a plate of chicken wings this year, grab some flour, buttermilk, and our vegetable of choice (mine is cauliflower) and make a nice batch of vegetable wings. Pro tip: buffalo sauce and ranch dressing cover a multitude of sins.
2. Put chickpeas where chicken used to go.
If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know this recipe. It comes out at every party, football-related or not, because it’s one of those recipes that people talk about for weeks afterwards. My friends, I present to you: buffalo chickpea dip.
3. Use beans as beef.
Skip the bean jokes and see my favorite food for what it is: the perfect substitute for beef in any and all occasions. Making sliders? Meet your new faves, black bean sliders. Making meatballs? Works there too. Beef tacos? So 2020.
4. Embrace the nutritional yeast.
My final tip is more of a life hack. Buy yourself a big ol’ bag of nutritional yeast, also known as “nooch” (don’t ask because I don’t know). This amazing ingredient adds a heft of umami and cheesiness to any vegetable dish you’re cooking up, helping those veggies to level up their flavor and score big with the crowd.
Want to learn more vegetarian options that don't skimp on flavor? We have some upcoming classes you can't miss:
- Virtual Instant Pot Plant-Based Cooking with Emily Paster Sunday, February 6 10am CST
- Hands-On Vegan Brunch Saturday, February 19 11am Merchandise Mart
- Hands-On Vegetarian Boot Camp Sunday, February 27 10am Lincoln Square