[Photograph: Liz Clayman]
Sofrito is an aromatic vegetable base used in many Spanish dishes to enhance their flavor. The main ingredients are onions, garlic, bell peppers, and tomato, all cooked down until sweet and caramelized. Many variations exist depending on personal preference and the recipe in question, including countless Latin American and Caribbean versions, like this Puerto Rican sofrito, as well. This one is along the lines of what you’d be most likely to find in Spain. You can use it as a flavorful base for soups, stews, braises, rice dishes like paella, and sauces; it can even be spooned onto sandwiches and snacks as a condiment.
Why It Works
- Adding a small amount of salt early helps draw out moisture from the vegetables and speeds up their cooking.
- Reducing the heat once browning is underway produces the most melting, sweet results.
- 1/2 cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium yellow onions (1.5 pounds/600g), finely diced
- One large (8-ounce/225g) green pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
- One large (8-ounce/225g) red pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
- One medium (10-ounce/285g) leek, white and light green parts only, washed well and finely diced (optional)
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) tomato paste
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, onion, green pepper, red pepper, and leek (if using), season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring, until vegetables have released their liquid and are beginning to brown lightly on the bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes.
Lower heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring and scraping frequently, until sofrito is sweet to the taste and a deep golden brown color, about 45 minutes longer. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. You should have about 2 cups. You can refrigerate the sofrito in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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