Pastel – Israeli Spiced Meat Pie

One of the things I like the most when I’m in Israel is the Israeli breakfast. Israeli breakfast is not just like any breakfast: it’s much richer and more abundant than any other breakfast in the world – even compared to American breakfast – and it has a special history. The Israeli breakfast is, in fact, a generous buffet with a thousand courses: fresh vegetable salads, cheeses, smoked fish, savory pies (including pastel, our topic for today), shakshouka, burekas, rugelah, babka… it is difficult to make a list that includes each specialty.

Pastel di carne

This almost disproportionate breakfast is an ancient legacy: it is born from the custom, widespread in all the kibbutzim since the founding of the State, to consume a very abundant meal before heading to work in the fields, which was a long and exhausting job.
Today, Israelis don’t eat as much for breakfast, but proper Israeli breakfast is served in most hotels – to enable tourists to discover the local cuisine – as well as in city cafes, which especially on weekends are filled with people idly enjoying the local version of a Sunday brunch.

The pastel is essentially a savory pie stuffed with minced meat, enriched with spices, and decorated with plenty of sesame seeds, which give it a special toasted flavor. You can eat it at all hours of the day, but the best time to have it is Shabbat, when you can serve it as a crunchy, spiced appetizer.
To tell the whole truth, there are many versions of the pastel: those who prefer not to mix meat and milk in the same meal, in compliance with the rules of kashrut, will make a stuffed mushroom pastel or the classic spinach pie to go with halavi (milk-based) meals; the pastel we learn to make today is the simplest one, made with minced beef, which is always a hit with adults and children alike.

To make the pastel I followed in principle the recipe of the chef Michael Solomonov contained in the magnificent book “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking“, but I changed some spices, skipped the carrots in the soffritto, and added a splash of good Italian red wine, to adapt the filling to the taste of my family.

Pastel di carne

Pastel di carne

Israeli Pastel Pie

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Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Antipasto
Cuisine Ebraica
Servings 1 torta salata


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 2 large eggs for the filling
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 large egg for brushing


  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until it has softened, but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add beef, cinnamon, cumin, parsley, salt, and pepper, stirring to combine. Cook until beef begins to brown, about 10 mins. Pour in the wine and cook 5 more mins until the wine has evaporated, then let the mixture cool completely.
    2 tbsp olive oil, 3 onions finely chopped, 2 pounds ground beef, 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 glass red wine
  • While beef is cooking, line a 9x11-inch baking dish with parchment paper, then place one layer of pastry on the paper, pulling up the dough to cover the sides of the baking dish.
    2 sheets of puff pastry
  • Whisk 2 eggs and add to the cooled beef mixture. Spoon mixture over pastry, then top with the remaining sheet of pastry. Pinch the pastry well to lock the filling in.
    2 large eggs for the filling
  • Chill the pie in the fridge for at least 1 hour and preheat the oven to 400° F degrees.
  • Whisk the remaining egg and brush it over the pastry, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the pie until golden on top, about 40 minutes, and allow to cool 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.
    1 large egg for brushing, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • The pastel keeps well in the fridge covered in foil and can be easily reheated.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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