Amy's Burrito Battle: Oven vs. Microwave Preparation

I have a very serious, very real love affair with Amy's Kitchen-brand frozen meals. Granted, my foray into the Light & Lean line -- via the Spinach Lasagna -- was unsuccessful, but on the whole I find the offerings in the Amy's line of frozen foods to be among the best in the freezer case.

Apart from the high quality, what I like best about Amy's is the wide variety -- there is always something to hit the spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Whether you need a little snack, a slice of pizza, a comforting entrée, or a meal to suit a special dietary restriction (low-sodium, gluten-free, low-calorie, dairy-free), Amy's usually has something on the shelf that fits the bill.

The one thing I always have on hand in my freezer is a selection of Amy's burritos. At about 300 calories each they are perfectly portioned for any meal. If I eat them at breakfast I add an egg; for lunch or dinner, I throw in a salad. Last week, just as I was about to pop the paper-towel wrapped burrito into the microwave, I noticed the conventional oven directions and wondered -- would a 55-minute cook time improve (if slow down) my Fast Times experience?

The short answer is "no." I was very surprised to find that the oven method didn't noticeably improve the quality of the burrito -- in fact, the oven warming method resulted in a lukewarm burrito with a somewhat dry outer wrap.

The microwave vs. oven instructions breakdown as follows: When cooking in the microwave, wrap the burrito in a paper towel and nuke for 2.5-3 minutes; when cooking in the oven, wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350 °F for 50-55 minutes. I baked mine for 52 minutes, but the burrito was just barely warmed through; no cold spots, but certainly not satisfyingly hot.

Another issue I found was the texture of the wrap. When microwave cooking, the steam softens the wheat wrap to a pliable texture, but oven baking left the wrap dry. Not fatally dry, but I did find that when slicing the burrito in half the dry layers were easily unraveled. The verdict: When it comes to Amy's burritos, microwaving results in a superior product -- Fast Times, for the win.

But as far as flavors go, Amy's burritos are top-notch. The beans and cheese are soft and creamy, and oh-so-satisfying. I do like to add a bit of salsa or a dash of hot sauce for some acidity to cut through the rich bean-and-cheese filling, along with whatever other toppings I toss on (fried egg, avocado/guacamole, sour cream).

As far as I'm concerned, Amy's burritos are a freezer staple -- like ice cubes, only delicious. Stock up!

Nutritional Info: 310 calories, 9 g fat, 580 mg sodium, 46 g carbs, 7 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar, 11 g protein

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