Sofrito… Preserving Vegetables While Adding Flavor To Your Meals!

By Lilybeth Colon

A friend was talking about how she hates it when she buys too many vegetables and they go bad because she doesn’t eat them fast enough. As a good Puerto Rican, I couldn’t help telling her about how I always use all my veggies by making “Sofrito” – a mix of veggies and herbs used as a base to many of our dishes. Sofrito can be added to soups, stews, rice, beans, you name it, and it adds tons of flavors! It can be made at the moment or frozen or refrigerated so that you have them every time you want to cook a delicious meal, even when the veggies are off-season.

Not only is sofrito a great way to preserve your veggies, but it helps to prevent wasted food going into landfills. This is important since in 2010 alone, around 35 million tons of food waste was generated in the U.S.! Of that, 97 percent was thrown away into landfills or incinerators! When food decomposes in landfills, it generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. On top of that, 13% of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food. When we waste it, it also wastes all of the resources that went into growing and distributing it. So not only is sofrito flavorful, making it with your soon-to-go bad veggies can help to save the planet!

Make your own! All you need is: (makes 4 cups)

  • 3 cubanelle or green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 8 ajices dulces peppers, seeded1
  • 2 medium onions, cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 12 leaves culantro or recao1
  •   Salt (optional)

Put them together in your food processor or blender and voila! There’s a base for a delicious salsa, soup or stew! Try freezing it in ice cube trays to make it really easy to use in the future. Another idea is to make a more Italian base with tomatoes, parsley, onions, garlic and oregano.

Remember, making sofrito allows you to save money, preserve your veggies, and have them readily available to make delicious foods. And, it helps reduce food waste! Check out other food waste reduction tips.

About the author: Lilybeth Colón is an environmental engineer in the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, and is an avid cooker. She loves trying new recipes, but often finds herself being creative in the kitchen making up her own recipes.