Sofrito is a complex but varied intersection between cooking method, ingredients, and finished dishes with many regional variations uses. My book, for example, has a version with green pepper, green apple and portobello mushrooms. Shown here with a smoky cashew spread
and fresh mixed baby greens wrapped in warm, fresh, hand rolled, whole wheat tortilla. It also goes well with brown rice, salsa and greens. Once you make it, you’ll find plenty of uses for it.
1 pound extra firm, high quality tofu, shredded (I use a box grater, larger holes)
1/2t coarse sea salt
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1T heaping smoked paprika
2t dried, ground cumin
2t dried oregano, rubbed
1T lemon juice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1″)
2T sun-dried tomatoes, minced (the dehydrated kind, not jarred)
1T white vinegar
2t black strap molasses
1-2T minced chipotle (the dehydrated kind, not in adobo)
1 large red pepper (about 1 cup)
1 large poblano pepper (about 1 cup)
1 cup passata (or tomato puree)
Red or black pepper and coarse sea salt to taste
Optional: You can replace chipotle with habanero (I often do). I also often replace the passata with salsa, the cumin with garam masala and/or the oregano with herbes de Provence. Spanish onions are more traditional than red. Cilantro, white wine and green peppers are also common variations.
Start with the peppers, then the tofu. Press your tofu ahead of time if it needs it. Preheat the oven to 450F. Lightly oil the peppers and roast until their skin is lightly charred (or use the gas stove method if you have a gas stove). Expect about 20 minutes, give or take.
It’s likely the poblano will finish more quickly than the red pepper. Remove them from heat separately if necessary. When done, let the peppers stand 10 minutes to cool. Skin, core, seed and dice. Puree the peppers (including the chipotle) until smooth.
When the peppers are ready, bring the oil to heat in a large frying pan with the sea salt. Add the onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add the dry spices and the garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes. The spices should be quite fragrant.
Add the tofu and saute until lightly browned (expect another 7 – 10 minutes). Stir carefully so as to not break up the tofu too much. Add the lemon juice and deglaze the pan. Remove from heat and add to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and slow cook for about 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low (although adjust for your
slow cooker — you know it better than I do).
Once the liquid has reduced to about 2 cups, preheat the oven to 200F. Remove the kombu and transfer the tofu to a roasting pan or baking sheet with sides and roast for about 2 hours, stirring periodically to ensure even browning and drying.
Once most of the liquid has been reduced and the pan is beginning to dry, increase the heat to 450F and roast for about 10 – 20 minutes to finish. The tofu should be chewy, but juicy, and an even reddish brown. Season to taste with additional pepper and salt.
Note: You can reduce cooking time by skipping the slow cook and slow roast in favor of just a slow roast. In that case, roast for about 4 hours at 200F and then increase heat, but expect to stir periodically the whole time. Your texture may not be quite as even and the flavour will not be quite as balanced. You may also want to wear gloves
when working with the chipotle or other hot peppers.