WRENTHAM — On a recent afternoon, Megan Hall was testing out some recipes in her newly renovated kitchen for an upcoming Super Bowl party.
While the open, modern space of gleaming grays and whites was impressive, what really caught a visitor’s attention was the enticing aroma: a mix of sweet, salty, and savory that wafted throughout the air and immediately triggered visceral hunger pangs.
Tangy buffalo- and barbecue-flavored wings, sausage-filled pretzel rolls, colorful coleslaw, and buttercream frosting-topped Guinness cupcakes adorned Hall’s quartzite-topped island, creating a visual that was almost as enticing as the surrounding scents.
And while the array of mouthwatering delights appeared to be typical Super Bowl party fare, Hall’s cuisine was all plant-based, with no animal products or animal byproducts used.
“I don’t get it when people say they couldn’t go vegan because they would miss this or miss that,” said Hall, 36, a realtor with Keller Williams Elite, a Plainville-based realty company. “What’s to miss?”
As she described each of the food items — the sausage-filled pretzel rolls are made with Beyond Sausage (from the Beyond Meat company), the wings are made with seitan (with vegan ranch dressing on the side), the coleslaw with dairy- and egg-free mayonnaise, and Bailey’s Almande (an almond milk liqueur) instead of Bailey’s Irish cream for the cupcake frosting — Hall explained how she enjoys “introducing people to vegan food, since they are always very pleasantly surprised — not only by how good the food is, but with some things, how much it tastes like meat . . . and even has the same texture.”
“And the Super Bowl, which is so centered around food, is a great time to do this,” added Hall, wearing a T-shirt declaring “Eating Animals is Weird.”
Hall said she is always quick to point out to skeptics that her seitan wings are made with vital wheat gluten, which is “much higher in protein” than chicken is.
A main staple at Super Bowl parties and other gatherings is a cheese plate and/or a charcuterie board, both of which can be made vegan with minimal effort — especially with the plethora of new plant-based cheeses and meat alternatives that are available.
“Cheese plates are great because you can have a variety of items, flavors, textures, and colors. You can have fruits, nuts, dips, and a mix of hard and soft cheeses,” said Northeastern University graduate Marissa Mullen, founder of the website ThatCheesePlate.com and author of the book “That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life,” scheduled to be released by Random House on May 5.
“There has been a huge surge in vegan cheese production, and these cheeses are very similar to dairy-based cheeses. My favorites are the cashew-based cheeses because when cashews are blended, they’re super creamy,” said Mullen. “Treeline has a scallion soft spread cheese that is delicious, and Miyokos has a good smokey-flavored hard cheese.”
Dips, too, lend themselves to vegan alternatives, she said.
“Vegan queso is great, and coconut yogurt is a [solid] base for all kinds of dips,” Mullen said. “And dips are a must for a Super Bowl party.”
Diana Martinez, owner of The Purple Rooster Cafe in Plainville, said the catering side of her business sees a “huge” uptick in anticipation of Super Bowl Sunday.
And more and more, customers — even those who aren’t vegan — are ordering plant-based party foods, she said.
“People take Super Bowl seriously around here. I started taking orders around Christmas,” Martinez, who is also the head chef, said. “Vegan meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, chili . . . those are some of the more popular items. Also the cauliflower wings. Everyone loves those.”
The meatballs, she explained, are made with a white bean base, “whatever vegetables I have,” and a variety of spices and sauces. “I like to mix up flavors from different cultures, and to make sure the food not only tastes good, but is colorful and fun,” Martinez said. “Like with the cauliflower wings platter, I’ll use General Tso, Buffalo, and sweet and sour sauces.”
While her restaurant and catering business isn’t entirely vegan, Martinez said that more customers than ever are ordering plant-based foods — as well as items that are gluten-free.
“I always thought that all vegans ate was salad, but I’ve learned a lot — thanks in large part to my customers,” she said.
One of those customers is New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr., who is vegan. He said he can’t get enough of Martinez’s cooking, and is such a good customer that Martinez is introducing a new item on the menu (a breakfast wrap that includes vegan cheese, home fries, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, and black bean salsa) in his honor called “Number 91,” which is his Patriots jersey number.
“The breakfasts here are really good. I usually come in here pretty hungry and always leave full,” said Wise during a recent visit to The Purple Rooster Cafe. The 25-year-old, 6-foot, 5-inch NFL player said he didn’t have Super Bowl party plans, but encouraged those who are having gatherings to try some plant-based items.
“There are so many other food choices out there,” he said. “You don’t just have to have wings.”
Juliet Pennington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.