As vegetarians, we often gravitate towards different restaurants compared to the average omnivore. A staple fast-food choice for our Mexican food-loving family is Chipotle (in our minds a healthier version of Taco Bell, long beloved by Indian immigrants as the only spicy option 20 years ago), which offers a ridiculously flavorful protein option called sofritas.
After long internet searches and multiple tries in the culinary laboratory, I developed a recipe that I think beats Chipotle’s version. It packs a punch of smokey, chipotle flavor and cooks the tofu in a way that satisfies even the biggest tofu-haters. The recipes I develop tend to reflect those of my ancestors – estimated ingredient portions and lots of tasting throughout, so use this as a rough guideline.
A special shoutout to Michelle Fowler for feeding us this dish when we were evacuated during the 2017 Santa Rosa fires!
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 poblano or bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon cumin, ground
½ teaspoon chipotle powder
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
16 ounces extra-firm tofu (or 1 package), drained
4-5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, canned, seeded and chopped
½ cup vegetable broth
1 cup jarred salsa of choice (such as Frontera Chipotle Salsa)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Salt and black pepper
Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onion and poblano or bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the spices (smoked paprika, cumin, chipotle powder, Mexican oregano) and cook for 5 minutes.
Crumble tofu into the pan. Add salt and black pepper as desired (about 1 teaspoon each).
Add chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Note: the seeds are where the heat lies, so if you really don’t want spice, remove seeds carefully, or grate peppers through a strainer.
Increase heat to medium-high.
Add vegetable broth, salsa, soy sauce, and vinegar. Add nutritional yeast if desired.
Stir frequently. Reduce liquid to desired consistency (ranging from salsa-like to dry crumbles). Serve as a meat substitute in enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas, taco salad, etc.