Most often, Recaito is traditionally cooked with olive oil or annatto oil, onions, garlic, bell peppers, cubanelle peppers, poblano peppers, cilantro, culantro and other aromatics, and once thickened, it is the foundation upon which hundreds of recipes are built. It is frequently referred to as Sofrito; the only difference separating the two being the omission of tomato in the former.
Sofrito/Recaito can range in color from green to orange to bright red, and the flavor profile can run the gamut from mild to pungent to spicy. And although it is immensely prevalent in Latin cuisine, it is also widely utilized in a number of Spanish, Italian and other Mediterranean dishes.
The popularity of Sofrito in Europe should come as no surprise to anyone as its origin is by no means indigenous to the Caribbean region. In fact, "Sofrito" - a Spanish term which means to saute or lightly fry - is a technique first brought to the Caribbean by Spanish colonists in the late Fifteenth-century. To emphasize this point, we find the first mention of this very technique referenced as "sofregit" in one of Europe's oldest cookbooks - the “Libre de Sent Soví” (circa 1324) from the Catalan region of Spain.
Today, the number of dishes prepared using Sofrito/Recaito is only exceeded by the vast array of ingredients used in its preparation - ajies dulces, tomatillo, tomato, tomato paste, jalapeno, habanaro, annato, sazon, vinegar, paprika, ham, pork, shallots, recao leaves, ngo gai, olives, capers, cumin, adobo, lay leaves and pimiento are but a few of the ingredients employed in its creation.
Here is a recipe for Recaito, or Green Sofrito, that is not only easy, but one that adds the perfect flavor for one of my favorite sandwiches - Foodidude's Recaito Pork and Broccoli Rabe Sandwich.
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Quarter the onion and the tomatillos. Halve the chile peppers.
- Toss the cubanelle and jalapeno halves, garlic cloves, onion quarters and tomatillos with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper, then spread them out on a sheet pan.
- Roast for 30 minutes, turning once.
- When done, allow to cool then put into a blender. Add chopped cilantro and blend until smooth.