Sofrito

Sofrito is a versatile, aromatic puree of cilantro, culantro, onion, garlic, bell peppers and a few other ingredients depending on which country you’re from.  A few recipes call for tomatoes; in Panama we do not use tomatoes I believe it’s to avoid the sofrito from going sour.  We usually add 2-3 tablespoons to the majority of our dishes.  Sofrito is used as a base for many Spanish and Latin influenced dishes, you’ll find that the color may vary region to region.  Sofrito is available in stores however; homemade is truly the way to go.  It’s simple and the ingredients are readily available at most grocery stores.  I omitted the parsley from this recipe, but feel free to add a bunch.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Bell pepper (your choice of color)
  • 1-2 medium onion(s)
  • 12-15 sweet peppers (aji dulce)
  • 1 ½ bunch of cilantro
  • 1 head of garlic (roasted)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 15-20 recao leaves (culantro, if you can find it)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • ¼ Tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp salt/sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

Thoroughly wash all of your vegetables and set aside.

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Roasting the garlic; cut the top of the garlic so the very tops are exposed and drench with olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Wrap the garlic in foil and toss in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Once it’s done the garlic will pop right out of the peel.

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While the garlic is roasting you can prep the rest of your ingredients.  Add the black pepper, oregano & coriander to a pilon (also known as mortar and pestle), using the pestle grind the spices together.  This helps bring out the flavor.

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Begin removing the skin from onion, the tips from bell peppers and cut them in half or quarters, so they easily fit in a blender or food processor.  You can leave the stems on the cilantro, it’ll add more flavor.

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Once the garlic is ready, begin tossing all of the ingredients into the blender (or food processor) and add the ½ cup of olive oil.  You may need to add a ¼ cup of water if you’re using a blender.  Blend until you have a smooth consistency.

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This will make 1 quart of sofrito.  I keep my sofrito in a plastic container in the fridge, but you can also store it in an ice cube tray in the freezer.  Be sure your ice tray has a cover, so you do not contaminate your sofrito.  Use 2-3 cubes or 2-3 tablespoons when preparing and/or marinating your dishes.  You will be amazed by how much flavor the sofrito will add.  Another benefit is your picky eaters will not know that there are a ton of veggies packed away in their food!

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Additional Tip: You can roast all of the veggies (with the exception of cilantro/culantro) this will create a deeper more enhanced flavor.

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