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Straight from the Freezer, a Speedy Shortcut to Better Weeknight Meals

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If you have soffritto in the fridge, it's your shortcut to a better-tasting pot roasts, soups, sauces, frittatas, and baked pastas. But to get to that point takes some time: You'll need to cook celery, onions, and carrots for 30 minutes to an hour, until all the pieces have lost their structural integrity.

So you need a shortcut to the shortcut—and that's where the soffritto roll comes in.

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Soffritto: A Not-So-Secret Secret Ingredient
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Soffritto: A Not-So-Secret Secret Ingredient

It's a trick we picked up in Mark Denner your next batch of soffritto at your next opportunity.

Soffritto is easy to scale up, as it's roughly equal parts onion, celery, and carrot (though some people, like Mark, go heavier on the onion). Use enough oil, butter, or a combination of the two to coat the bottom of the pan and prevent the vegetables from sticking or scorching. Once the vegetable pieces are slumpy-soft, allow the mixture to cool, then spoon it onto a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and, as Mark suggests, "roll the whole thing up like a Tootsie Roll."

Photo by Mark Weinberg

Now all you need to do is freeze the log in a gallon zip-top bag or another layer of plastic wrap: The next time you're trying to make your dinner taste more flavorful without doing more chopping, just saw off a hunk directly from the freezer. You can let the roll sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften up, but the amount of fat should mean that it remains soft even when frozen.

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The same technique works well for homemade tomato paste and chipotles en adobo, says Mark, and it's also a smart way to store curry pastes, stir-fry sauces, caramelized onions, and even some pestos (so long as they're not too liquidy).

Do be aware, however, that storing soffritto carries a risk—if a small one—of botulism: Low-acid vegetables, like the onions and peppers in soffritto, are more likely to provide hospitable homes for botulism-causing spores. (Learn more about botulism—and how to take caution against it—here.)