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  • Writer's pictureJeff & Jo's

Sofrito - Straight from the Plaza del Mercado, Mayaguez

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

We made the freshest sofrito! Went shopping to the Plaza del Mercado in Mayaguez and headed straight to the kitchen to make a delicious sofrito. Sofrito is the core of Puerto Rican cooking - we use it on everything! So check out this delicious recipe!


4 medium cubanelle peppers

3 medium onions

15-20 cloves garlic

2 bunches cilantro

3 tomatoes

5 ajies dulces

1 bunch recao (aka culantro)


Buying the Ingredients

I’m not sure about you but I love food shopping. I love going to a market and enjoying all the wonderful colors and sights of fresh produce. Plazas del Mercado have a long history in Puerto Rico. There’s usually one plaza del mercado in each town and I have great memories of going to the one in my hometown, Humacao to buy fresh produce for my grandpa’s restaurant. It was my first time visiting this plaza del mercado in Mayaguez but they all have the general same set up, lots of individually owned stalls with fresh produce. We got to visit Mr. Lebron and ask him about the ingredients for sofrito. As a typical Puerto Rican, he had some strong opinion as to what we should include in our sofrito and we are going to stick close to his recipe here.

Preparing the Sofrito

Start by thoroughly washing your ingredients. You want to remove all the dirt from the cilantro and the recao. Most of these veggies come straight from a farm to the plaza del mercado so they have not been rinsed as some of the ones that you buy at the grocery store may have been. Do the same with the peppers and tomatoes, making sure to remove any dirt from each of them. Both of these are local vegetables as well.

Now you are ready to start pureeing the vegetables. Start with the tomatoes, and cut each of them in fourths and add them to the food processor. I suggest starting with the tomatoes as they have a lot of water in them so you will not need to add additional water to the sofrito. Once you have added all of the tomatoes, then add the three yellow onions. These onions have been peeled and cut in half. Cut each of them one more time, so they will be in fourths. Although we asked for Mr. Lebron for ingredients for a small batch of sofrito, this ended up being quite a lot and this food processor is a bit tight for our ingredients so we will be doing batches. However, if you can fit all your ingredients at once then go ahead and do that.

You will notice that we are using a food processor here. You can also puree and mix the sofrito in a blender, you will get very similar results, so just use whichever one you have at home. If you are using the food processor, then do a mix of pulsing and running it on high. You will need to open the food processor and mix the contents every once in a while to make sure that everything is evenly pureed.

Take a large bowl and place the first batch of ingredients.

Add the garlic cloves to the food processor. Then cut and clean your peppers. Remove all of the seeds and stem as they have a bitter taste. Then cut each pepper in eights and add it to the food processor. Puree and mix those ingredients using the same process as before - pulse and run on high and mix the ingredients as necessary.

Then cut and clean the ajies dulces. As with the cubanelle peppers, remove all of the seed and stem as they also have a bitter taste. Ajies dulces have a strong particular taste. This type of pepper is related to the habaneros but it has a much milder taste and it’s not spicy at all. Add the ajies dulces to the food processor.

Cut off the end of the stems of the culantro and then cut it in half and add it to the food processor. Finally take the cilantro and cut it into thirds and add it to the food processor. Puree all of them in the food processor. Once again, alternating between pulsing and running on high.

Add the pureed garlic, peppers, ajies, recao and cilantro to the same large bowl which included the first batch of ingredients and mix it all thoroughly. This sofrito will have a light green color as a result of adding the tomatoes.

Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.

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