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Consider This: Soffritto As a Garnish

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor
April 22, 2014

Charred romanesco, Fresno chili, anchovy, soffritto, caper, and mint at Gjelina in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Julia Bainbridge

Soffritto: in Italian cooking, it’s a mixture of chopped celery, onions, and carrots, the first component of a soup or sauce to be licked by butter or oil. (The French call it mirepoix.) The Spanish sofrito also forms the base of traditional dishes, but it’s made up of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and green peppers.

Point is: These aromatics usually provide a foundation, not a roof, for dishes. Gjelina restaurant in Los Angeles, California, though, tops its charred romanesco side dish with anchovies, capers, mint, and, yes, soffritto (the Italian version). The orange and green colors stay vibrant, since they’re never charred—only sautéed—and the mix of sweet and grassy flavors also provide a nice finishing note to a hefty plate of vegetables. It’s a bright idea by way of Venice Beach to incorporate into your home kitchen.

We suggest cooking up a big batch of soffritto and storing it in your fridge for a few days, using half to top your suppers with and half to filter into pasta sauces that will be stowed in the freezer to aid you on a harried evening. Here’s how to make it: 

In a medium skillet, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil. Add the 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery ribs, 1 diced onion, and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook over low heat until the vegetables are just tender, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.