Vegans, vegetarians, and other meat-averse folk now have their very own protein option at Chipotle restaurants in Arizona. Rather than making a hodgepodge of beans, guac, fajitas veggies, and corn (which actually doesn't sound that bad), vegans can opt for the new Sofritas, a chile pepper-braised tofu, in tacos, burritos, bowls, salads, and quesaritos (although that wouldn't be vegan anymore because of the cheese).
Nate Appleman, one of Chipotle's chefs, said the idea came about organically while working with tofu options for the ShopHouse Asian concept and chorizo options for Chipotle. (Wait, is Chipotle going to start serving chorizo?! Sorry, got distracted there for a minute, vegans.) The tofu, which is braised in chipotle chiles, roasted poblano peppers, and a blend of aromatic spices, is from non-GMO tofu maker Hodo Soy.
Appleman says that the final Sofritas recipe tastes most similar to a "bowl of chili" and that it has been received well in the cities it's been released by meat eaters and veg heads alike.
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"I'm kind of surprised the numbers we've been selling shows that it's not just vegetarians buying it, and that was our goal," he says.
Although working with tofu is new for him, he says, the challenge allowed him to experiment more than he would with meats that he's used to cooking with. It also forced him to be more conscious of what it means to be vegan, as he notes in the last hours he had to change the recipe because it included honey -- an ingredient that isn't vegan.
Chipotle has been taking steps since last year to make restaurants more vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, though, by removing the bacon from the pinto bean recipe.