A Greek spaghetti with meat sauce - makaronia me kima is comforting and delicious. Slowly cooked, with red wine, lots of aromatics, and good tomatoes all flavors develop and really shine.
Few meals are as satisfying as good pasta with meat sauce. This is my version of makaronia me kima (Greek for pasta with meat sauce). It is embellished with influences I have had during years of being curious about food.
What you need for this greek spaghetti meat sauce
Mirepoix. I start the sauce base with a classic mirepoix - diced onions, celery, and carrots. (Greeks don't use mirepoix as a base).
Seasonings and herbs. My beloved Greek oregano, bay leaf, cloves, nutmeg, a cinnamon stick, and fresh thyme when available.
Ground meat. My favorite is grass-fed organic ground beef. I simmer the veggies for a while and start browning the ground beef, and instead of milk that classic Italian bolognese has, I add a glass of red wine.
Red wine. I always use a wine that I would enjoy drinking. There are lots of cabernet or chiantis at reasonable prices perfectly good for drinking and cooking.
Good-quality canned tomatoes. Being Greek, born, and raised, I am spoiled with the amazing tomatoes available in Greece. Since I can't find the same in Hoboken, I get San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P. for excellent flavor every time. If you can't find Italian tomatoes, don't despair! Use what is available. Because supermarket canned tomatoes can be sour, I add a little sugar to the sauce; a teaspoon should be enough to remove any sourness and transform it.
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Add 2–3 Tbsp olive oil to a large pot. In medium heat, add the onion—season with a pinch of salt. Stir and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and stir.
Add the celery and carrots. Stir well. Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Stir everything well and season with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a generous pinch of dry oregano. Add the bay leaf, cloves, and thyme leaves. Keeping sautéing for 2-3 min and let flavors develop.
Add ½ cup water, add the bouillon, stir everything well, lower heat, and simmer for 15 min or so.
Increase heat to medium and add the ground meat. Break the meat with a wooden spoon to avoid large chunks. Brown the ground meat all over.
Add the wine. Increase heat to high to let the alcohol evaporate for 1-2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, cinnamon stick, and 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg. Break up the tomatoes with your spoon. Stir everything well, add ½ cup of water. Lower heat and simmer meat sauce for 3 hours, occasionally checking if you need to add more water. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
I slow cook the sauce for 3-4 hours on the stove or more if I can afford it because the result is a velvety amazing sauce representing exactly the way I like it. Comforting and delicious with deep, satisfying flavors.
Which pasta to choose for this meat sauce
My favorite way to enjoy this sauce is tossed with thin spaghetti.
As an adult, I also like the fat macaroni pasta. I was not too fond of it as a kid when my mother cooked the fat pasta. She was from Crete, and it was more common to use that kind at the time. In Greece, the fat macaroni pasta is usually used for the traditional pastitsio dish, the famous baked pasta casserole. It is similar to lasagna and is the epitome of Greek comfort food.
Pappardelle would also work really well as well as fettuccine to capture the delicious sauce. In reality, you can use any pasta shape you like!
A great pasta dish call for plenty of grated cheese on top!
For cheese choices, good parmesan cheese is always an excellent option.
Greek meat sauce helpful Q&A
Yes, Greeks eat a lot of pasta. They have their own recipes for pasta and also enjoy the Italian classics.
In Greece apart from all the classic Italian pasta shapes available there are also the Greek varieties: Striftaria (small pasta in the shape of a braid), Chylopites (look like tagliatelle), Kofto Makaronaki (similar to elbow pasta), Kouskousaki (tiny couscous), Kritharaki (orzo), Trachanas (coarse, uneven crumbs, for soup). Greek pasta is usually made with wheat, milk, and eggs.
You can also use equal parts of ground beef and pork, just ground pork, or mix ground beef with ground hot Italian sausage. If you like ground lamb, you are more than welcome to use it. A nice variation is to saute some pancetta pieces or bacon with the onions for a zesty flavor to the sauce.
I never drain cooked meat, especially for spaghetti sauce. I want that fat in the sauce for flavor.
You may also like:
- This Greek spaghetti sauce with tomatoes & basil is made with basic pantry ingredients and tastes immeasurably better than the best supermarket sauce.
- Stifado - Greek beef stew is a hearty delicious dish slowly cooked in an aromatic red wine broth.
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Greek Spaghetti With Meat Sauce - Makaronia me Kima
- 2 lb ground beef
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 celery stalk diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 organic palm oil-free veggie bouillon cubes
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 cloves
- 32 oz San Marzano tomatoes like Gustarosso.
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- freshly ground pepper
- Add 2–3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot. In medium heat, add the onion—season with a pinch of salt. Stir and sauté until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and stir.
- Add the celery and carrots. Stir well. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Stir everything well and season with salt, fresh ground pepper, and one tablespoon of dry oregano. Add the bay leaf, cloves, and thyme leaves. Keeping sautéing for 2-3 min and let flavors develop.
- Add ½ cup water, add the bouillon, stir everything well and lower heat. Simmer for 15 min or so.
- Increase heat to medium and add the ground meat. Break the meat with a wooden spoon to avoid large chunks. Brown the ground meat all over.
- Add one cup red wine. Increase heat to high and let the alcohol evaporate for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, cinnamon stick, and 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg. Break up the tomatoes with your spoon. Stir everything well, add ½ cup of water.Lower heat and simmer the sauce for 3 hours, occasionally checking if you need to add more water.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over your favorite pasta with plenty of parmesan cheese.
- The more the sauce slow cooks, the better it will taste. If you can afford 3-4 hours of simmer, you will discover a deep, wonderful flavor in your sauce.
- You can substitute 1 lb ground beef with 1 lb ground pork or 1 lb ground sausage. If you like some heat, use hot Italian ground sausage.
- When good tomatoes are in abundance in the summer, use 32 oz grated fresh tomatoes instead of 32 oz San Marzano. Depending on how sweet the fresh tomatoes are, mix a tsp of sugar in the grated tomatoes before adding to cut on the acidity if you need to.