When I spent last Thankgiving with my boyfriend’s family in Puerto Rico, we spent some time meandering around “Old San Juan,” the historical colonnial part of San Juan. I loved the cobblestone streets, the colorful buildings, and the quaint restaurants and bars that were tucked away. On a mission to get quality mofongo (basically a fried plaintain mash), we stopped at a restaurant that served theirs with “shrimp in sofrito sauce.”
Let me stop and preface the rest of this story with the fact that I had never heard of mofongo or sofrito. When the dish was brought out, I obviously stuck my fork right in there.
Wow. You can’t go wrong with fried mashed plantains – or a sofrito sauce. Since then, I haven’t tried to make mofongo or sofrito. Today, that changes! Well, it was Saturday when I made this dish, so – Saturday it changed!
Now, this dish would be most authentic/appropriate with pink beans, but I only had black beans in my pantry and didn’t have time to rush out to buy them. This bowl of zucchini pasta with sofrito sauce is so easy to make and packed with flavor and smells that’ll sneak up your nose and put a smile on your face. It’s satisfying, interesting, and much different than a traditional Italian pasta sauce.
I’m not a sofrito expert and depending on if you come from Spain, Portugal, Latin America or even the Caribbean, sofrito can be prepared different ways. I read up a bit on this. As an Italian woman dating a man of Colombian and Dominican descent who was born and raised in Puerto Rico and does not cook at all, I was out of luck. He sure does look pretty, though.
So, I decided to combine flavors I thought would taste best together from all the different versions. Unlike a traditional Italian tomato sauce, sofrito is made of yellow onions and red and green peppers. I tossed in some chopped manzanilla olives for saltiness and spiced it up with smoked paprika and gave it a delectable aroma with some chopped cilantro.
Oh, the plantains. I really tried my hardest not to fry the plantains, but I couldn’t resist. I only used a half tablespoon of olive oil, so I call that “lightly fried.” I chose plantains that were green but ripe and soft, so they were slightly sweet. Once fried in the olive oil with some salt and pepper, their sugars popped through and when topped on the savory and spiced zucchini pasta, they tasted fantastic.
It passed the Lu test, since he slurped it up even after it sat there for 20 minutes while I photographed and poked at it.
If you like Spanish flavors, this is the meal for you. Don’t skip on the “lightly” fried plantains – they’re the best part, especially when you can dip them in the leftover sofrito sauce!
Sofrito Zucchini Pasta with Beans and Lightly Fried Plantains
- 1 green plantain
- 2 half-tablespoons of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 tbsp chopped red bell pepper
- 3 tbsp chopped green bell pepper
- 2 round red tomatoes chopped (or 1/2 a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp chopped manzanillo olives or green olives
- 1 heaping tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1.5 medium zucchinis Blade C
- 1/3 cup pink beans or beans of choice
- Chop the ends off your plantain. Slice the skin lengthwise and peel the skin off the plantain. Slice the plantain lengthwise and chop it in four quarters. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the half tablespoon of olive oil.
- Once the oil heats, add in the plantain pieces and season with salt and pepper.
- Let cook for 2 minutes and then flip over, cooking for about another 2 minutes or until plantains are browned on both sides. Set aside on a paper-towel lined plate.
- Place a large skillet over medium-low heat and add in the other half tablespoon of olive oil.
- Once the oil heats, add in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds and then add in the chopped onion and chopped peppers. Cook for 2 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
- Add in the tomatoes, smoked paprika and stir. Cook until the sauce reduces, about 10 minutes. Once the sauce is almost done reducing, add in the cilantro and olives and stir to combine.
- Add in the zucchini noodles, beans and cook for about 2 minutes or until zucchini softens, tossing frequently.
- Place the noodles in a bowl and topped with plantains.