Americans typically consume more than 1.4 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday, a day when vegetables are typically relegated to the crudité tray. But the world of veggies is vast and much more exciting than that limp celery-and-carrot combo.
In fact, they can even serve as a delicious stand-in for those beloved chicken wings, according to veritable veggie experts Chef Jamie Simpson and Farmer Lee Jones.
The duo are busy crafting veggie recipes using produce from Jones’ The Chef’s Garden farm at The Culinary Vegetable Institute in Ohio, which connects chefs and farmers to explore the delicious possibilities of farm-grown produce.
The Chef’s Garden
This year, Simpson and Jones are reimagining the classic Game Day menu with some exciting and unexpected vegetable twists.
“By incorporating these vegetable-centric dishes, you not only provide a diverse and colorful spread but also offer a healthier and equally satisfying game-day experience,” Simpson tells VegNews.
“These options celebrate the versatility of vegetables and showcase how they can be just as delicious and crowd-pleasing as traditional game-day fare, he says.
A new take on plant-based chicken wings
Plant-based chicken wings are not new and many make them with cauliflower, a toothsome alternative that’s perfect for dipping.
However, the star of Simpson and Jones’ reimagined Super Bowl menu is a plant-based chicken wing made with an uncommon vegetable: the Jerusalem artichoke. Also known as a sunchoke, Jones says this veggie is a perfect stand-in for chicken wings.
“Jerusalem artichokes can absorb flavors well, making them an excellent canvas for various seasonings and sauces,” Jones tells VegNews. “They can be just as satisfying as chicken wings with the right spices and sauces, such as the classic buffalo sauce.”
Simpson likes to prepare these sunchoke wings traditionally by coating them in plant-based milk before dipping them into a seasoned mix and baking them. These are then tossed in a traditional Buffalo sauce (made vegan with dairy-free butter) to kick up the flavor. You can find the full recipe here.
“These plant-based wings offer a satisfying alternative to the traditional dish, providing a burst of flavor and crunch,” Simpson says.
The often-overlooked vegetables also pack a nutritional punch.
“This member of the sunflower family is a great source of inulin (a prebiotic fiber) and other insoluble fibers that support digestive health when bacteria ferment and break them down into short-chain fatty acids,” Jones says, explaining that these compounds aid in supporting metabolic and immune health.
“Inulin has also been found to increase mineral absorption and stabilize blood sugar,” Jones says. “This may benefit inflammatory bowel disease and improve the overall balance of the microbiome.”
More vegetables on the Super Bowl menu
To add even more veggies to the Game Day menu, Simpson rethought our favorite dip: hummus. His version, Sweet Potato Hummus with Petite Vegetables, is all about color and depth of flavor and is paired with crunchy vegetables and pita bread for easy snacking.
“The humble sweet potato takes center stage in this hummus providing velvety depths of flavor and an unmatched richness,” Simpson says. “It transforms a classic dip into a colorful, nutrient-rich option.”
The addition of sweet potatoes to hummus boosts the dip’s nutritional content with essential nutrients, including vitamins (A, C, and B6), minerals (potassium and manganese), and dietary fiber, Jones explains.
The Chef’s Garden
“They contain antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, and anti-inflammatory properties that help contribute to overall health,” Jones says.
The chef’s Muffaletta Root Vegetable Slice Sliders is another innovative take on classic handheld sandwiches with a rich mix of layered, seasoned root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and turnips, that take the place of Italian cold cuts.
The sandwiches are complimented with pickled flavors, imparted by chopped mixed olives and giardiniera, all assembled on a mini slider bun with Provolone (dairy-free cheese, of course).
The Chef’s Garden
Using veggie slices instead of processed meats gives these Game Day sliders a hit of nutrition. Jones explains that beets contain betaine, an antioxidant that aids in heart health; carrots are filled with beta carotene that helps with vision and immunity; and the high vitamin C content of turnips supports the immune system.
To have this menu ready for Game Day, chef Simpson suggests doing a little prep work such as roasting the sweet potatoes for the hummus, washing and slicing the vegetables for the sliders, and scrubbing the Jerusalem artichokes.
Superfoods during the Super Bowl
Instead of the cholesterol bomb of a typical Game Day menu, Simpson and Jones’ vegetable-packed version is filled with nutrients and antioxidants and showcases the link between agriculture and the culinary arts.
“Vegetables are versatile, flavorful, and deserve a spotlight on the plate,” Jones says. “With a touch of creativity, you can transform traditional recipes into delicious vegetable options that rival their meat counterparts.”
“Whether you’re aiming for a healthier option, accommodating dietary preferences, or simply exploring new flavors, vegetables have the potential to shine in every dish,” he continues.
This reimagined Game Day menu also showcases the beauty of chefs and farmers working together, the cornerstone of the educational work they do at The Culinary Vegetable Institute.
The Chef’s Garden
Here, culinarians from all over the world come to learn about growing and cooking vegetables, forging symbiotic relationships between farmers and chefs.
“Joint efforts between farmers and chefs celebrate the essence of agriculture,” Jones says. “By showcasing the beauty of vegetables, these collaborations emphasize the importance of seasonal eating, and cultivate a deeper appreciation for the bounty of the land.”