Taste test: Chipotle ‘s Sofritas, new tofu menu option

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Chipotle, home of the gut-busting burrito, now features a vegan friendly tofu option.

Vegetarians and vegans have, for too long, been relegated to the Chipotle sidelines, left to fill their burritos with nothing but the fixings: lettuce, corn, beans, rice, salsa and guacamole.

Now they, too, can indulge in the overwhelming fullness that accompanies eating a stuffed Chipotle burrito.

Sofritas are an organic, shredded tofu braised in chipotle chilies, roasted poblanos and a “blend of aromatic spices.”

Tofu-maker Hodo Soy Beanery will supply the new soy-based protein to Chipotle stores in Arizona and 23 other states around the country. The Oakland, Calif., company does not use genetically modified organisms in its foods.

We asked members of Arizona Country club to gives us their take on sofritas in tacos, burritos and quesadillas.

“I think they’re a great addition to the menu, with a smokey-chile flavor that adds a much needed flavor kick,” said Richard, an online producer and vegetarian.

A 4-ounce serving of sofritas has 145 calories, 10 grams of fat (1.5 grams of saturated fat), 9 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein. That’s half as much saturated fat as the chicken and four times less fat than the carnitas, making sofritas the healthiest protein option on the Chipotle menu.

“The tofu also has fewer calories than any of the meat offerings, not drastically fewer, but when you’re eating a 1,200 calorie burrito, every little bit helps,” Richard said. “Some open-minded carnivores might do well to give it a try.”

Another taste-testers, Nathan Lukas, designer and former vegetarian, said that although it’s a good option for vegetarians and tofu-lovers, she isn’t willing to shell out the extra cash for it.

“I could just have beans instead,” she said.

Here are a few of the reactions to Chipotle’s sofritas.

The tofu in the taco and burrito was well-spiced and seasoned and had a vaguely meaty flavor (the kind that reduces people to saying, inaccurately, “tastes like chicken”). But the texture was unappealingly grainy, sort of like the not-all-beef beef at Taco Bell, but in larger chunks. If you told me it was meat, I might believe you, but I’d think it had been severely overcooked.

“The quesadilla was a little gummy and too salty. More cheesy than meaty, for sure.

“As a fan of fine Japanese cuisine, I think tofu is an underrated food precisely because people keep trying to turn it into meat. If you’re going to cook with tofu, you should do so on its own terms.”

Richard, online producer:

I’d have to give the quesadilla the edge on this one. I know this one is the furthest from vegan, but the smoky flavor of the sofritas really blended well with the cheese. The tofu also helped spice up the burrito, which didn’t have any cheese or sour cream and probably would have tasted pretty bland without that flavor kick.

“Before the sofritas rolled into town, a vegetarian could mostly just get a burrito/bowl/whatever without the meat, which was fine with me, because those salsas and guacamole are worth the price of admission. Plus, Chipotle has recently cut the bacon out of their pinto beans, which is a good step.”

NAthan Lukas, designer:

“The burrito still tasted like a burrito, and same with the tacos. But the quesadilla — there was something about the texture of the tofu and the cheese that I could not get past. The tofu had a strong smoky flavor, but was a little salty for my taste.

“For those open to tofu, this is a good option, but I would say that the tofu isn’t more or less delicious than a veggie burrito or a bean taco. For days when you’re craving a little more substance, I would give it a try. But if tofu isn’t your thing, Chipotle’s recipe isn’t going to change your mind.”

Miranda lEErs, features copy editor:

“The tofu had a scrambled texture similar to ground meat and a spicy, smoky flavor. I love spicy foods, but I prefer them with a hint of lime. I also didn’t care for the saltiness.

“My usual order at Chipotle is a burrito bowl with brown rice, black and pinto beans, fajita veggies, hot sauce, pico de gallo, guacamole, a little bit of cheese and lettuce. A perk of not ordering meat at Chipotle is that you aren’t charged extra for the guacamole. (Yay!)

“So, will I add sofritas to my burrito bowl? Probably not. I’ll stick to my usual order because it’s cheaper, just as filling and less salty.”

kelly, online producer:

“I’m not a vegetarian, but I like tofu and would easily opt to bypass beef for these Chipotle options.

“As Oliver Twist would say, ‘Please sir, may I have some more?’

“Full disclosure: I was hungry when asked to participate in this taste test.”

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