In Memoriam: Ubuntu's Strawberry Sofrito Pizza

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strawberry sofrito sandwich.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Napa recently experienced a sudden, tragic, and devastating loss... Ubuntu took its strawberry sofrito pizza off the dinner menu. In my humble opinion, this dish showcased all the best qualities of the restaurant: uber-local organic ingredients, creatively prepared, internationally inspired, and perfectly executed. Who else would think to combine Napa's famous summer strawberries with onions and garlic, slow cook the mixture in olive oil for three days to a sweet, savory, caramelized nirvana, and then spread it on a thin-crust pizza with fresh burrata and pine nuts? It was bliss, and I was in love.
But according to the waiter on my most recent visit, Chef Jeremy Fox has removed the pizzas from the dinner menu in order to focus attention on his "seed to stalk" cuisine. I totally support seed to stalk efficiency, using every conceivable part of the plant in the dish, but did he really have to take away my strawberry sofrito pizza to do it?!?! I felt betrayed and bereft. I couldn't say goodbye so easily, so I set out to reverse engineer the sofrito at home.

In so doing, I discovered that strawberry sofrito is great on a goat cheese or turkey sandwich with arugula, fabulous as a cheese board relish, and divine on homemade burrata pizza with fresh baby mint leaves. I also confirmed my suspicion that it doesn't take three days to make unless you want it to... or unless you let it sit in the fridge three days before you eat it.

Recipe for Strawberry Sofrito, inspired by Chef Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu

  • 2 cups chopped (¼ inch dice) yellow onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼  teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup chopped (¼ inch dice) fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup dry white or rosé wine
  • 8 medium size leaves fresh basil, minced fine
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
Sauté onion in olive oil over medium-low heat with garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir frequently and cook slowly until sweet and caramelized, typically about 20-30 minutes. Using a parchment paper cover or loose aluminum foil cover will help cook the onion through and reduce the risk of burning. Once the onions are completely soft, add the wine and continue to cook, stirring until absorbed.
Add strawberries and basil and additional salt and continue cooking with the loose cover. The berries will give off their juice, and then start cooking down. Stir frequently once the juice has evaporated because the mixture will be tacky and want to stick to the pan. Cook until a thick paste and all flavors have blended. Yields about 1 cup cooked sofrito.
This stuff is awesome paired with a dry but fruit-forward rosé (especially if you used one in the recipe). I particularly like Ceja Vineyards' Bella Rosa from the Sonoma Coast.

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