Of course, when you move anywhere new, you expect to make new friends. While it always takes me a few months to get acclimated to a place, I have always been pretty lucky to find pretty good people to hang out with be it through work, book clubs, yoga classes, etc…
After I had lived in the Midwestern part of the U.S. for a few years, a new girl started working in my department. For me, it was a rare role reversal that I had not experienced before. I was no longer the newbie, she was. We hit it off instantly. Though she was from Puerto Rico, we both grew up in hot cultures and loved wistfully talking about all of the foods we wish were still available to us.
On a few occasions, we invited each other over to one another’s house to not only eat, but to also participate in the cooking process. This is how I became aware of what my friend with her beautiful accent would lovingly call “sofrito.” From how she explained it, sofrito is a base seasoning for many Puerto Rican dishes. That distinguishable flavor profile that is intangible to the untrained palate. Back in Puerto Rico, her family used different peppers than the green bell pepper, but those are not readily available here, so she adapted the original recipe using green bell peppers. She would make huge amounts of it and save in small containers in her freezer. While the weather is warming up, I will, as a tribute to a friend I miss dearly, start this week off making some sofrito to use in a few dishes this week.
Sofrito (Puerto Rican)
2 medium green bell peppers, seeds removed
2 medium onions, peeled
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 bunch cilantro leaves