Peak season is the perfect time to talk about sofritos. This is the time of year where most ingredients used in sofritos can be found in CSA shares, at farmers markets and farm stands. What is a sofrito you ask? It is a blend of vegetables, herbs and spices used to flavor dishes. The ingredients in the sofrito can vary with each cuisine. The way sofritos are used within recipes can range from the mixture cooking down to provide a flavorful base that the recipe is built on, a stew that the protein and other components simmer in or a sauce that is used to finish a dish. The flavors and colors of the sofrito used will vary with the ingredients and cuisine providing a background or being more pungent and upfront.
Each family and generation may have their own version of a sofrito and may not make the same one twice. In many cases, it was using up what they had on hand and the recipe would be tweaked. This spirit of using what is available is perfect for using up what is in your refrigerator each week. Any veggies on their way out? Add them to your own version of a sofrito. This is a flavorful way to make sure nothing ever goes to waste.
The mixtures freeze very well in ice cube trays, then pop out and store in freezer bags. Write which type of sofrito is in the bag and set yourself up for some delicious fall and winter cooking. The sofrito will be perfect for marinating protein before roasting, using in the base of a soup or beans or simmering chicken. Defrost a couple of cubes and wake it up cooked in a pan with a little olive oil – use as a sauce.
Ingredients (depending on cuisine) can include bell peppers, sweet peppers, onions, garlic, celery, cilantro or parsley, fennel tops, carrot tops, tomatoes, cumin, black pepper, aji dulce and carrots. If you like some spice add habanero, jalapeno, cherry bomb or serrano peppers. Because the sofrito mixture is put through the food processor, this is a great use for non-woody herb stems like basil, parsley, cilantro, dill etc.
Perhaps try making a few traditional sofritos or create your own family recipe!
Italian Sofrito – finely chopped carrots, onions and celery (freezes well)
Different types of sofrito with recipes – Dominican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Spanish