Catalan Tomato and Onion Sauce (Sofrito) 2.500

Monica Bhide for The Washington Post

May 8, 2009

Chef Jose Andres says sofrito is a basic sauce that has launched a thousand recipes. The onions, not tomatoes, are key. They should smell sweet when they are sauteed.

Make Ahead: The sauce can be frozen for up to 1 month or refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Servings: 2.5 cups
  • 10 ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Water (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves


Place a large-holed grater over a large mixing bowl. Rub the cut sides of the tomato halves on the grater down to the skin, then discard the skin. Strain the flesh and any juices, discarding the seeds.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium or medium-low heat. Add the onions, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes, until the onions are tender and lightly caramelized. (Avoid burning the onions; if they get too dark, add a little water.)

Add the tomato flesh and any juices, smoked paprika and bay leaves; mix well. Increase the heat to medium, if needed; cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed.

Remove the bay leaves before serving or storing (let cool before storing).

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America," by Jose Andres and Richard Wolfe (Clarkson Potter, 2005).

Tested by Monica Bhide.

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