Meatballs in Sofrito Sauce

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 10 servings
  • Prep 15 mins
  • Cook 31 mins

Meatballs in a flavorful Puerto Rican sauce.

Meatballs in Sofrito Sauce
Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn

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



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