The word “sofrito” comes from a Spanish word that means to fry something by sautéing or stir-frying. Several recipes throughout the Caribbean use this fragrant blend of herbs and vegetables as the foundation ingredient in their cooking.
In the late 1400s the Spanish colonists brought this cooking method to the Caribbean and Latin America. Flavor and ingredient preferences differ based on the country where it is prepared. The Dominican Republic uses vinegar for a tart taste and annatto for color and calls it “sazon”. Puerto Rico calls it “recaito” and uses culantro for that characteristic pungent flavor, sweet chili peppers (aji dulces) and some people add pickled olives and ham.
I have always used store bought Sofrito until I learned from my husband’s aunt how easy it was to prepare her version of Sofrito. After that it became my go-to sofrito recipe when preparing arroz con salchicha, vegetarian Puerto Rican pink beans plus other Puerto Rican dishes.
The sofrito can be divided into several glass containers or silicon ice cube trays and frozen for up to a year. It could be refrigerated up to a month in a closed tight container.
- 2 lbs. Spanish onions
- 2 heads of garlic
- 8-10 aji dulces
- 2 medium red bell peppers
- 2 medium green bell peppers
- a bunch of recao
- a large bunch of cilantro
- 1 3.75 fl. oz. caper container (liquid drained)
- ½ 9½ fl. oz. Manzanilla Spanish olives (liquid drained)
- ¼ - ½ cup olive oil (you only need very little)
- Wash well all the herbs and vegetables. Peeled the garlic cloves.
- Cut the bell peppers in quarters and remove the seeds and stem.
- Cut the aji dulces in half and remove the seeds.
- Peel onion and cut in quarters.
- Remove the thicker stem from the cilantro and recao.
- Place each one of the ingredients in different bowls: bell peppers together, capers and olives together.
- Working in batches, add in the food processor a third of the ingredients and 2 tablespoons of olive oil or more, depending on the batch size.
- Pour the sofrito in glass jars or large silicon ice cube trays and freeze.
Aji dulce - Small Caribbean pepper about the size of a habanero and are not spicy at all but slightly sweet. If you cannot find it add extra red bell pepper.
This recipe can be halved if you don't need that much.