Everyone needs a kitchen cheat. A go-to spice, sauce or dish; a signature easily resorted to when otherwise completely uninspired in the kitchen. Mixing Sriracha and mayonnaise together and calling it your ‘secret sauce’ does not count. Uninspired does not mean lazy.

Sofrito is my cheat, my kitchen lifeline when I’m out of fresh vegetables, I’m tired, or out of ideas when it comes to dinner. Popular in Spain and South America, though not always by the same name, sofrito has as many variations as can be expected of a sauce with this wide appeal. The common elements are always a large quantity of tomatoes, onions and peppers, from red and green bells to pimenton, paprika.

My sofrito is of course all my own and flavored heavily with carrots, celery, chile verde and Mexican oregano. Made in a large batch this life-saving – or better yet, flavor-giving – sauce is around for more that one meal. This recipe purposely leaves out any herbs I would normally finish the sauce with, a good handful of cilantro and a smaller portion of parsley. Since the sauce would be canned or frozen for longer shelf-life, it is best to add herbs whenever it is being used.

Ways to use your sofrito:

  • Tossed into braised chard or kale.
  • Finished with a small quantity of butter and served over fish.
  • In chicken soup.
  • As a base to poach eggs.
  • With pasta and scallops.
  • However you want.
Eggs and purslane poached in sofrito.

Big Batch Sofrito

  • Servings: 10 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 pound yellow onions, 1/4″ diced
  • 1 pound carrots, 1/4″ diced
  • 1 pound celery, 1/4″ diced
  • 1 pound chile verde (anaheim peppers), sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, 1/4″ diced
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Sweat onions, carrots and celery until beginning to soften, being sure to season lightly with salt and pepper. Add sliced chile verde and sweat until fragrant. Add minced garlic, once again cooking until fragrant. Add the diced tomato, season lightly with salt and pepper. Add oregano and thyme.

Stirring occasionally, cook the sofrito over low heat until the tomatoes become very soft. As this sauce is a base, rather than a finished product, seasoning with salt and pepper should be light, allowing for further adjustment when incorporating into a completed dish.

Store the sauce by canning, or by cooling completely and portioning into quart size bags and freezing. Be sure to not overfill storage bags and to lay flat for best results.

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