Meatless “Meat” Sauce

By: Eleni Saltas

To make a vegetarian version of the beloved kima (Greek meat sauce), simply swap ground meat for mushrooms and chickpeas. The vegetables make a hearty texture, creating a meatless “meat” sauce. My brother, who thinks literally, argues this dish’s name doesn’t make sense. However, it does sound better than “mushroom sauce”. Regardless, the sauce works well for vegans, vegetarians, and has even won the hearts of meat eaters as well.

Prep Time:


Total Time:




Good For:



  • 16 ounces mushrooms (cremini or white button)
  • 12 ounces preferred pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 (32-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons dry oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms into fine uniform pieces. You may have to pulse in batches.

Step 2

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Season well with salt, pepper, cinnamon and oregano, and cook until the mushrooms have slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions have softened. Make sure to stir continuously. Add the wine and allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes before adding the next ingredients.

Step 3

Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid (leave the lid off slightly). Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, being sure to stir occasionally (from the bottom).

Step 4

While the sauce cooks: prepare your preferred pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, pulse the chickpeas in your food processor until you have fine pieces. Give them a rinse to remove the starches.

Step 5

Occasionally check the sauce and add more salt and pepper, cinnamon and oregano if needed. Since mushrooms don’t carry much flavor on their own be sure to season well. Once the sauce has thickened and you’ve adjusted spices to your taste, stir in the chickpeas and allow to simmer together for 5 minutes.

Step 6

Remove from heat and serve atop pasta. Sprinkle on preferred grated cheese if desired.