I mentioned in "about me" that I am of Puerto Rican descent and have enjoyed exploring gluten free foods of many different spanish cultures. I have to say that before my diagnosis I was very biased in terms of Puerto Rican food as it compares to other the South and Central American foods. To me no other culture compared to the flavors and aromas we ( and by we I mean Puerto Ricans) created in our kitchens.
I can honestly say I was very mistaken! However, I did learn what differentiates the cultures from each other, it's all in the Sofrito!! This is the basis for just about every dish we make. It is the conbination of these fresh herbs and spices that will fill your home with intoxicating aromas.....Every culture has their own version of sofrito and there are many variations. I will give you my abuelita's recipe. She is 91 years old and still leads the way in our family for the true traditional dishes.
She traditionally made it by sauteing achiote seeds in pork fat, but has modified the recipe for obvious reasons. We no longer put the achiote in the sofrito instead we use it separately where needed. This is what gives the latin dishes the criollo flavor. This recipe can last for at least 2-3 weeks in the freezer and you can use it in everything......and I mean everything; soups, stews, beans, sauces, dips....anything!!! Along with the Adobo (which is another recipe) if you're not Latin no one would be able to tell from your cooking!
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 1 bunch Recao
- 2 heads of garlic
- 3 large onions
- 1 lb ajices dulce (sweet chiles)
- 2 Cubanelle peppers or 2 large bell peppers
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1/2 cup olives with pimientos (optional)
- 1 tbsp capers (optional)
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1Tbsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp Oregano
- 1/2 Tbsp of cumin
Wash all of the ingredients thoroughly, peel garlic, and chop all the ingredients coarsely. Add all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor. Texture is a personal preference. I like to leave it a little chunky but not too much. Pour the completed mix into a bowl and mix well. Pour the mixture into ice-cube trays and freeze. Once frozen pour into a freezer bag. You will always be prepared for a quick meal that taste like it took hours to make. By the way, these ingredients may not always be available in your local store. Recao is a long flat leaf herb that has serrated edges and smells similar to cilantro but has double the cilantro power. You can substitue cilantro for the Recao. Also, the Ajices dulce are small sweet peppers that range in color from yellow to red and green. Do not mistake them for a habanero since there is big difference in heat! These may be difficult to find as well. If you can't find them you can exclude them....the flavor of your dishes will still be greatly enhanced.