Growing up I hated doing chores (who doesn’t?), my least favorite was pulling weeds. Sometimes as I cleaned the yard, I would stumble on one or two wild plants of Recao. Recao is a local herb that looks just like any other weed, but its aroma is floral and spicy. When its used in its full leaf form it makes every stew or rice just sing with layers of flavor, but If you pull one with your bare hands… like, when cleaning out the yard, you will be smelling like recao for an entire day. This thing is powerful stuff especially if consumed raw.
Recaito is the most basic component of Puerto Rican food, it anchors any stew-based dish and helps develop different layers of flavor. Its a simple blend of mostly raw peppers, onions, garlic, herbs and Recao that is pretty common in some Latin American countries, where its widely called Sofrito. Sofrito usually incorporates tomatoes, Recaito its mostly all about the herbs.
By no means I claim this to be the official recipe, this is just the one that grew up with, the one that has been handed down from generation to generation. I remember my mom had an old clunky mill that looked more like a medieval device of torture. It was hard to use, but it made THE smoothest recaito. The smell of pureed sweet peppers, onions and cilantro filled the house with the most herbolicious scent! Once the mix hits the bottom of hot pan all that steam is released, your dish starts to really sing.
Makes about 16 oz. Prep time: 25 mins
1 Green or Anaheim pepper
1/2 lb of sweet green peppers (ajies dulces)–be careful, they look like habaneros!
1 head of garlic
1 small yellow onion
1 bunch fresh recao (culantro) leaves
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1/2 bunch of fresh oregano
Chop all peppers to medium sized cubes, clean and scrape off seeds.
Chop onions, fresh herbs, garlic just enough to fit the food processor easily.
Using a food processor, puree peppers and onions first then add the rest of the ingredients.
Pulse ingredients together in medium / high speed until all ingredients are well incorporated and the consistency is smooth. Use a little water or olive oil if the mixture needs to be smoother.
Pour mixture in a glass container like a mason jar, refrigerate or freeze if you want it to last longer.
Awesome Tip from Mom
Pour mixture in an ice tray and freeze until set. The cubed size mixture makes a perfect size for using Recao in every PRican dish as its base. Easy breezy!
Here’s a picture of the Scotch Bonnet peppers, so they’re easier to spot in the super market. These peppers are mostly green but they can turn yellow and red with no huge flavor variations.