We just experienced an early cold snap with two nights of freezing temps in a row. Many local gardeners spent hours constructing tents around their gardens with electric lights or sprinklers to keep their tender plants from freezing. Me? I just let it all freeze. I was ready to let the peppers and basil go, along with most of the other tropical food plants. I harvested all of the ripe peppers before the freeze, quite a good haul of peppers. I only grew a few kinds of peppers this year, mostly aji cachucha, a small Dominican mild pepper with thin walls and really nice flavor. They’re not as sweet as the thick-walled big red or yellow peppers, but a little sweeter than a cubanelle. More importantly, the plants survived an brutal onslaught of stem borers this year to produce quite heavily.
Aren’t they pretty? I’m harvesting my subtropical crops like pigeon peas and cassava right now and we’ll be eating a lot of Caribbean foods this winter, so I wanted to make sofrito with these peppers. Unfortunately the peppers started going soft before I could gather all the ingredients for sofrito. I decided to make a quick recaito and freeze it, but then when I finally could go shopping everyone was out of recao/culantro, and you can’t make recaito without recao. Any self-respecting Puerto Rican would probably stomp on my toe for sharing a recipe for recaito with no recao. So this is not recaito (despite the label) but I think calling it “Caribbean soup base” is pretty safe.
Caribbean Soup Base
1 lb aji cachucha (or any combination of thin walled non-spicy peppers)
4 large cloves of garlic
1 bunch cilantro
Cut each pepper in half and carefully remove the seeds and stem. The seeds quickly become bitter when you cook them. Roughly chop the cilantro and garlic. Combine everything in a food processor and process only until the mixture comes together. Do not puree! Leave it chunky. Separate into small containers or 4 oz jars and freeze.
This base can be used to make ajilimojili sauce (just add some olive oil, lime juice, a Scotch Bonnet for some heat, and salt & pepper) or to cook anything from chicken & rice casserole to an omelet. Please note- the traditional preparation of this would include onions. My husband can’t eat onions, so I just leave them out.