The answer to an Italian bolognese, a Greek meat sauce is different in the sense of flavors.
Text And Photo By Pam Kanavos
“Macaronia me kima” (pronounced ma ka RO nia me kee MAH) is a classic Greek dish of pasta and meat sauce. Similar to an Italian bolognese, but different in the sense of flavors. There are no carrots or celery being used, and traditional Greek flavors of cinnamon, allspice and cloves are added.
Meat sauce in Greece is referred to as kima (kee-MAH), which is also the word for ground beef. It’s thicker and more like chili in its consistency than a typical Italian bolognese sauce. Tacos, meaty mac and cheese, even chilli, or any dish that calls for classic braised ground meat can be recreate with this sauce. It is a very versatile sauce and, it’s very easy to make. You only need 10 minutes to prep and then the sauce cooks itself. Just remember to start the pasta about 10 minutes before the kima is done. Once strained, throw the past right in the sauce. Voila! There you have it, makaronia me kima.
It seems that every Greek cook puts his or her own personal spin on this traditional favorite. That is the beauty of this recipe; it can be adapted to your own personal taste and it will quickly become a favorite in your family. Here is my family’s favorite version on this traditional dish.
Pasta with meat sauce (Makaronia me Kima)
A nice easy to make comfort food, that will become your family’s favorite
- Author: Pam Kanavos
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 tbsp. olive oil (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2–3 berries of allspices (or a nice pinch of ground)
- Pinch of ground cloves (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tbsp. butter
- 1 lb. pasta
- Grated Mizithra or Kefalotyri cheese
- In a 4-quart saucepan, add oil and brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until all pink color disappears.
- Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the wine and allow it to simmer a minute or two before adding the next ingredients.
- Add, cinnamon, allspice, cloves (if using), salt, pepper, sugar, tomato sauce and water. Bring the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be meat with some juice.
- Add the parsley and 1/2 tbsp. butter. (The flavors of the sauce will develop the longer if it sits, and it’s sometimes even better the second day after you make it.)
- Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Serve pasta with meat sauce topping and don’t forget the grated cheese.
- Note: If you cant find Mizithra or Kefalotyri cheese, substitute with Pecorino Roman or Parmesan Cheese
Pam Kanavos is a Boston-based food blogger and Pastry Chef. Her Greek heritage has not only shaped her cooking, but also vastly contributed to her culinary personality. Being a lover of all things sweet and savory, Pam cooks, bakes, tastes, and luckily shares her recipes on her blog Sucrée....
In Croatia we eat Italian version, I suppose, but I like how Greeks use allspice, cinnamon-really interesting and sounds flavorful, delicious!
I make a big batch of bolognese every month–this looks like a fun variation, especially as I love allspice! Where do you find the cheese here in Boston? I was just looking for Kefalotyri for a recipe and subbed parmesan (just as you suggest); the Whole Foods guy said that there’s been trouble sourcing it recently?
HI Sara, Kefalotyri can be found in arlington on mass ave, in a little shop called christos. Also you can find it at any greek shop around town. You could sub it with parm no problem.
Very nice recipe indeed! I am using it as a guide today that I am making it on my own!
I will tell you the truth, I’ve never been a big fan of kefalotiri in Makaronia me Kima, not that it doesn’t taste well, but in my opinion Mizithra brings the dish to another dimension!
For me mizithra is by far the best cheese when it comes to pasta!
I am currently living in the UK and I brought with me a whole head of mizithra :p
Thanks again for the recipe and have a good day!
Makaronia me kima is practically the same as ragu bolognese in terms of flavor profile.
Both of them have all of the following ingredients:
Parsley has a pretty similar taste to celery, and both of these ingredients can be freely exchanged and substituted for one another.
Cinnamon and allspice are both pretty similar in terms of flavor to nutmeg.
Water is a bit plain in comparison to beef stock.
Although not very common in authentic Northern Italian ragù, garlic often shows up in Italian-American spaghetti bolognese.
The only ingredients in ragù bolognese which have no true equivalent in makaronia me kima are carrots and pancetta.
I love the seasonings, it has been a long time to make a decent sauce. But there was too much water, that would have taken a long time to reduce. Mine, .25 C water (Lamb/Beef 2# mix) and it took 40 minutes to reduce. I will need to replace the cinnamon with a stick in two next time, cook for 60+ mins.
This is the closest recipe I have found to one of my favorite comfort foods. My ex-wife’s mother use to make it and I really miss it. But they use cinnamon sticks and whole gloves. The cheese I think was the kefalotyri which was placed on the plate, then pasta, sauce and cheese. Going to try it. Miss this dish more than the ex. Thanks for sharing
I make this recipe all the time. Closest I’ve found to authentic Greek spaghetti. My family also really enjoys it! I make it exactly as the recipe states and it’s perfection every time!
Simple and delicious recipe!! My family enjoyed it very much, even my 4 year old! Thank you.