Meatballs in Sofrito Sauce

  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 31 mins

Sofrito is a rich sautéed mixture of onion, peppers and garlic that makes a great tomato sauce. It is used in many Puerto Rican dishes. Use a lean ground beef, but not the leanest, so that the meatballs will be tender.


Sofrito Sauce:
2tablespoons vegetable oil
1cup onion, chopped
1cup chopped red or green bell pepper
2cloves garlic, minced
1can (14-oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2cup water
1/3cup cilantro sprigs
1/2teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon Coarsely ground black pepper
1pound lean ground beef
1/3cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
1-- egg lightly beaten
3tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1clove garlic, minced
1/2teaspoon dried oregano
1/2teaspoon salt
1/4teaspoon Coarsely ground black pepper
2tablespoons vegetable oil
Lime-Cilantro Gremolata:
1-- lime
1tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1clove garlic, minced


  1. To prepare sofrito sauce, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper and garlic; sauté 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Place onion mixture and remaining sauce ingredients in blender or food processor; process until smooth. Set aside.
  3. To prepare meatballs, combine beef and next 7 ingredients (beef through black pepper) in a medium bowl; shape mixture into 30 (1-inch) meatballs. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs; cook until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes. Drain well; return to pan.
  4. Add sofrito sauce; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until meatballs are done and sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon into a serving bowl or individual shot glasses.
  5. To prepare gremolata, grate rind from lime, reserving lime for another use. Combine lime rind, cilantro and garlic in a small bowl. Sprinkle over meatballs. Serves 10.

Recipe by Lisa Holderness and Wini Moranville.

Nutritional Info *per serving

  • Calories 170
  • Glycemic Load 0
  • Fat 11g
  • Saturated Fat 2.5g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
  • Monounsaturated Fat 3.5g
  • Cholesterol 40mg
  • Sodium 360mg
  • Potassium 160mg
  • Carbohydrate 7g
  • Fiber 1g
  • Sugars 3g
  • Protein 10g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Vitamin A 15%
  • Vitamin C 50%
  • Calcium 2%
  • Iron 8%