Sofrito… this luscious green base can create wonders in your kitchen, believe me when I say that. Picadillo, pollo guisado, empanadas… those Latin favorites are just around the corner when you have this in your repertoire.
It’s summer time in Florida, and it’s the weekend… that means it’s raining today! It’s been coming down since morning. Why is it perfectly fine all week, and then here comes Saturday and it pours all day? So, that means the beach is out, pool is out. Hmm… movie time? Naah, my 11 monther won’t allow that. How about my next favorite thing to do, go grocery shopping!!!
I love grocery shopping, and the best is going to a fresh produce market. It is a feast for my eyes as I go through the different aisles seeing those colorful arrays of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, recipes start popping in my head and I start planning meals for the coming week. Hmm… those peppers look great… or that eggplant or those giant portobellos… I am like Alice in Wonderland when surrounded by these goodies.
I was grabbing my greens for the week – spinach, salad greens, cilantro – when something else caught my eye… culantro leaves. My eyes danced when I thought of Sofrito. Whenever there is sofrito in my refrigerator what follows in the coming weeks is all those yummilacious Latino crackers like picadillo, pollo guisado or bistec encebollado. Yes, that’s what I am going to make on this rainy afternoon, a big batch of Homemade Sofrito.
If you like Latin food, have you ever wondered where those bold flavors come from? Besides their spices, the main hero is sofrito.
What is Sofrito?
Sofrito is a fragrant green base, blending numerous staples used in many Latin, central American, Caribbean and even Filipino cuisines. Every country or household has their own specific blend. This is somewhat of a basic hybrid version. I will give you some other variations later on. This one has onions, green peppers, cubanelle or red bell peppers, garlic, cilantro and culantro. Yes, the last one is a little obscure, but you can often find it in Hispanic stores if it is not in your usual grocery store.
Culantro is an herb that has a similar aroma and flavor to cilantro. It has long, serrated leaves and looks a bit like long-leafed lettuce. It is tad bit stronger and more pungent than cilantro, but while culantro can handle the high heat of cooking, cilantro is a very delicate herb, which is why it is often used as seasoning after cooking. Don’t fret too much if you can’t find this leafy green, just increase your dose of cilantro and it still comes close.
How to make Homemade Sofrito
- Peel garlic and onions.
- Remove seeds from peppers.
- Cut veggies into chunks.
- Put everything in a food processor and blend. That’s it!
What to do with Homemade Sofrito
This recipe will make 4-5 cups of sofrito. You usually only need 3-4 tablespoons per recipe, so this will go a long way. You can refrigerate it if using within few days or freeze it in ice cube trays for later use. Each cube is about 1 tablespoon and there is no need to thaw before use.
Try it as a seasoning any time you are making Latin food… it goes great in rice dishes, beans, stews and my favorite, Picadillo!
- In Colombia, there are two main versions: Hogoa which is simply tomatoes and green onions and guiso, which also incorporates cumin and coriander.
- Cuban sofrito is similar to my version, but sometimes includes tomato, white wine, cilantro and spices.
- Dominican sofritos vary quite a bit, but usually have the usual suspects of ingredients. The most unique aspect of theirs is the inclusion of vinegar, which adds a little acidic bite.
- My recipe is most similar to the Puerto Rican version, where culantro, or recao, is the dominant flavor. Often, they also include aji dulce, a pepper that resembles habaneros but is much milder. They also often roast their bell peppers prior to adding to their sofrito.
- Many Caribbean versions use lard as a base and use annatto seeds to add a yellowish color.
- In the Yukatan state of Mexico they add habanero peppers. Like it spicy? This is your version!
- Filipino sofrito. Yes, this base is popular on the opposite side of the globe! A simple mixture of tomatoes, onions and garlic sauteed in oil is the base for many Filipino dishes!
What’s your favorite version?
Homemade Sofrito, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
For more great tropical flavors, check out my roundup of the 40 Best Caribbean Recipes.
- 2 large green bell peppers
- 2 large onions
- 1 cubanelle or red bell pepper
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 large bunch of cilantro
- 15 leaves culantro
- Rinse veggies and herbs.
- Peel garlic and onions.
- Remove seeds and stems from peppers.
- Cut peppers and onions into chunks.
- Blend all ingredients in food processor. Easy!
- Looking for a recipe to use your big batch of sofrito in? Try my Puerto Rican Picadillo!
- Don't panic if you can't find culantro! Just add a bit more cilantro.
- If using within a week, refrigerate in airtight container.
- This recipe makes a lot! Generally you only use 2-3 tbsp at a time, so I freeze mine in ice cube trays and store the "sofrito cubes" in a ziploc bag. Just take out your cubes and throw them in your recipe, no need to thaw!
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 21Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 2mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 1g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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