March is all about fresh herbs. The freeze thaws, seeds sprout and my taste buds reawaken. Spring fever hits and I make myself crazy trying to find the time to clean and chop and serve my family the best of nature’s bounty. Not one to settle for any sort of helper – hamburger or otherwise – I cherish serving fresh, healthy dinners to my family. Sometimes, however, doing more than popping a pizza in the oven seems like an ordeal.
That’s where the Dominican Republic comes in. In this beautiful Caribbean country, locals have figured out how to eat fresh herbs and vegetables on a daily basis with minimal fuss. Here’s how it works: They throw a bunch of ingredients in a blender/processor and give it a whir. This mixture, called a sazon (also sofrito) is stored in the refrigerator and used all week long. Meal after meal, the sazon’s bright flavors lift simple meals to star status, and no chopping is required.
The key to sazon is to make it personal. Every home in the Dominican Republic has its own variation, made with love and according to their preferences. Our version is chock full of peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, parsley, cilantro, red and green onions and garlic. Make sazon enough and you’ll soon have a favorite combination that works for your family.
Makes about 5 cups
Are you haggard in the kitchen? Overwhelmed at the thought of cutting up a bunch of fresh vegetables on a week night, but aware that if you don’t, dinner is going to be bland and unhealthy? Dominican sazon is your answer. Make a batch once or twice a week and you’ll have a great, healthy seasoning base that will amp up any dish. Keep refrigerated or frozen.
2 tomatillos, quartered?
2 roma tomatoes, quartered?
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped?
1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped ?
1 green pepper, cut in half-inch chunks?
1 red pepper, cut in half-inch chunks?
1 red onion, cut in half-inch chunks?
3 green onions, sliced?
6 cloves garlic, quartered?
Salt and pepper
Add tomatillos and tomatoes to the bowl of an 11-cup food processor. Pulse to make a coarse purée. The moistness will also help to process the rest of the ingredients. Add chopped parsley and cilantro and give a few pulses.
Add half of the remaining ingredients and pulse until there is enough room to add the rest. The final mixture should be a coarse blend with larger pieces intermixed. It should not be blended so much that it becomes soupy. Refrigerate until needed. Keeps for about five days.
To use, add to stews, beans and more. For best results, heat oil over medium and brown the sazon prior to combining with other ingredients.
Sasha Martin is cooking one meal for every country in the world at www.globaltableadventure.com. Her picky husband and baby girl are along for the ride. Join the adventure for recipes, reviews and more.