Tastes Like Home – Green seasoning

Green seasoning

A must-have in many kitchens

Hi Everyone, It is that certain something that makes you go ‘ummm’ as you eat, it’s that mysterious flavour that makes certain dishes uniquely delicious, and it is that special seasoning that defines certain cuisines.

Green Seasoning ingredients (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Green Seasoning ingredients (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

For the Italians it’s soffritto, for the French mirepoix, for the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, sofrito; many cuisines have their own versions of the holy trinity (green peppers, onions and celery) and we in the English-speaking Caribbean have green seasoning. The soffritto, mirepoix, sofrito, holy trinity and green seasoning are all versatile flavour-bases made with a combination of herbs and aromatics. They are used in various cuisines to give that unique flavour and taste to certain dishes. The Italian soffritto is generally made by sautéing chopped onions with garlic in olive oil to which can be added one or more of the following: olives, carrots, celery, etc. The French mirepoix is celery, onions and carrots sautéed in butter or oil; the Latin American sofrito is a blended mixture of tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, onions, herbs, especially culantro (more commonly known, especially in Trinidad & Tobago, as chadon beni). The holy trinity varies depending on the cuisine, but the one we hear of most often is the Cajun and Creole cuisine-inspired one of Louisiana in the United States of America – celery, onions and bell peppers sautéed in oil and butter. Our green seasoning is more closely aligned with Latin American sofrito in that it is not a cooked sauce and it can be used to season foods before they are ready to be cooked; the ingredients are blended and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until ready for use. Each household, I believe, has its own combination of ingredients that make up the very herby green seasoning.

Bottled Green Seasoning (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Bottled Green Seasoning (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

At home when I was growing up we made our own green seasoning with the following combination: onions, garlic, hot peppers, green onions, thyme, celery and basil. Today, my green seasoning has all of the above plus rosemary, tarragon, parsley, mint, marjoram and cilantro, simply because they are readily available here at the markets in Barbados.

Green seasoning is a must-have in many kitchens and some people cannot imagine cooking without it. I know of people who load up on homemade and store-bought bottles of green seasoning to take back with them abroad. It’s great for marinating chicken, meat or fish, in preparation for baking, grilling, roasting or frying. It is used as a base to sauté vegetables. It makes quick work of putting together a curry paste by simply adding the ground garam masala and turmeric or curry powder to it. It is also an excellent base for  stews and sauces.

When my best friend was away studying I made a bottle of green seasoning for her to take back to America. She said that for her it was like gold as it was really a great way to get a taste of home. Actually, whenever I get an email from a reader saying that they want the recipe for Guyanese or Caribbean baked chicken, fried fish or stew, I know immediately what it is that they are referring to, that unique and homey taste that the green seasoning imparts to such dishes.

Making your own green seasoning is easy. Start by choosing a combination of herbs that you like. There are certain herbs that some people cannot tolerate or do not like at all, such as celery or cilantro. Then there are some herbs that are stronger in flavour than others, and putting too much of those into your green seasoning can overpower the other ingredients, so you need to bear that in mind. What you are looking for is to strike a balance. You certainly do not have to put all the herbs I’ve listed into your green seasoning:

green onions, thyme, celery, rosemary, tarragon, parsley, mint, marjoram, cilantro, and basil. I’d recommend thyme, marjoram, basil, parsley, celery. In my green seasoning, I tend to put more green onions, celery and thyme – herbs I would use more often in my everyday cooking. Use the herbs you like or the ones available in your market. Onions and garlic are a must along with hot peppers. I use Scotch Bonnet. You can make your green seasoning as hot or as mild as you like.

Start by washing and cleaning all your ingredients, pat them dry and then chop them up roughly and in large pieces. Remember they are going to be ground up so there’s no need for perfect dicing or slicing. I usually quarter my onions depending on their size, the garlic cloves I leave whole as well as the peppers. The only thing I really cut up is the green onions, everything else comes on a stem and can easily be torn or pulled off.

Once that is done, fill the bowl of your food processor with the ingredients and sprinkle some salt – the salt works as a preservative – close the lid and let the food processor run until everything is reduced to a puree or very fine mince. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and repeat until all the ingredients have been ground up.

Fill clean glass jars with the green seasoning, close tightly and store in the refrigerator. Each time you open a jar to get some of the seasoning be sure to use a clean utensil to avoid spoilage. The green seasoning lasts for a very long time; it may lose some of the bright green colour but the flavour will remain. If you’re into freezing your green seasoning, do so in ice trays and store the cubes in zip bags and defrost when ready to use.

If you’ve never made and used green seasoning before, try it, and use it to make a dish in which it will really shine through – like baked chicken or some kind of meat or as the base in a stew of meat, vegetables or legumes. Be sure to invite guests; I bet they’ll be wondering what it is that you put in the food to make it so tasty. Don’t worry, I won’t tell them what your secret ingredient is; it’ll be our little secret.



Latest in The Scene

20160625Royden Sealey2

Royden Sealey expresses himself through his art

Royden Sealey has always had a passion for art and as a child had expressed this in ways which landed him in hot water.

Lystra Adams and friends at the Royal Ascot

The value of craftsmanship

Those who know me well are aware of my deep appreciation for millinery and the craftsmanship that surrounds it. I think this interest stems from being completely fascinated by the women I admire and find interesting.


Fit closes Spectrum 12

Painting the Spectrum 12, SASOD’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film festival comes to a close next week with Spectrum Night, screening of Fit and the customary painting the spectrum.


Rukatuks for Rodney at NCC tonight

Rukatuks, billed as a benefit show for actor, poet, comedian and folklorist, Henry Rodney, will blasty off this evening from 8 at the National Cultural Centre.

T’shanna Cort

T’shanna Cort has hope in her music

“I Have Hope” is the name of the song with which T’shanna Cort won this year’s Junior Calypso Competition and today, nearly six months later, fans from all across Guyana greet her with those words and praise her performance.

Fashion forecasters (that’s a career too) predicted that 2016’s fashion trends will involve pantone colours, androgyny, romanticism, 70's fashionborn x chictopia

Looking at the bigger picture

Following up on last’s week column, fashion careers, this week I wanted to share with you my general response to the commonly asked question, can the Caribbean actually have a thriving fashion industry?


Caribbean short films, Canadian documentary for Spectrum next week

Painting the Spectrum 12, SASOD’s annual film festival continues next Tuesday, June 21, at the Dutch Bottle Café, located at 10 North Road, Bourda in Georgetown, with two short films, Transgender: Back to Jamaica and Antiman.

Scene from Me Before You

The romantic comedy you’ve been waiting for: Me Before You

If you have already grown tired of 2016’s endless parade of comic book adaptations and superheroes, Me Before You is the romantic comedy that promises a breath of fresh air.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: