The 2 Additions You Need To Give Sofrito A Burst Of Pizzazz

Similar to the French mirepoix or Cajun holy trinity, sofrito is a fundamental jumping-off point for many recipes from Latin America, the Mediterranean, and as far away as the Philippines. Sofrito itself is a versatile recipe that each culinary culture has adapted with local ingredients and flavors. That said, lime and cilantro are two key ingredients that will seriously upgrade your sofrito with a burst of zesty, tangy pizzazz.

Originating in Spain in the Middle Ages, the word sofrito is a derivative of the verb "sofreír" which means to stir-fry. The first sofrito recipe was a saute of garlic, leeks, and onions with salted pork, but over time other cultural interpretations expanded the dish's definition and purpose. No longer is its application limited to the base for soups and stews, but it's also used as a rich, chunky condiment to slather over steak and bread, or to stir into rice and eggs.

Adding lime and cilantro brightens a sofrito with fresh herbs and zingy citrus, while also bolstering its consistency into a juicier, almost chimichurri-like sauce. This cilantro-lime sofrito recipe that Tasting Table adapted from chef Annie Pettry incorporates lime and cilantro into the sofrito at the tail end of the cooking. After frying onions until caramelized, take them off the heat and finish with lime juice, zest, and freshly chopped cilantro.

Pairing lime cilantro sofrito with dishes and other ingredients

While Pettry's recipe uses a simple saute of onions in butter as the foundation for lime and cilantro, you can make the sofrito base more elaborate. For instance, the modern Spanish version of sofrito features tomatoes, bell peppers, paprika, garlic, onions, and olive oil, providing a smoky, earthy, and aromatic complement to cilantro and lime.

You can add lime and cilantro instead of culantro in the Puerto Rican version of sofrito known as recaito, a saute of onions, garlic, and sweet peppers. The citrus-herb duo would also work well with the tomatoes, bell peppers, and diced ham in Cuban sofrito. For a Mexican twist, add jalapeños or habaneros to your sofrito before finishing with cilantro and lime to temper the heat.

Just as cilantro and lime will upgrade various sofrito recipes, cilantro-lime sofrito itself is the perfect condiment for a wide variety of dishes. Spread it over a filet of fish or steak; drizzle it over grilled vegetables, tostones, or arroz con moros; or use it as a topping for a tortilla Española.