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Israeli Style Moussaka for Passover

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Israeli Style Moussaka for Passover is made with layers of flavorful ground beef filling in between slices of eggplant and topped with slices of fresh tomato!

Moussaka for Passover ground beef covered with tomato slices in a clear square baking dish

Moussaka is predominantly a Middle Eastern dish, each country with it’s own unique recipe and flavor. However, it is normally dairy. Israeli Style Moussaka for Passover is not only dairy-free, but it will surely become a Passover favorite!

A little of my cooking background

I really wanted to title this blog “If I can make it, anyone can”, because – honestly – if I can make it, anyone can.

I never really liked cooking and when I was single, a meal for me meant grilled cheese, eggs, tuna, or something else that didn’t require effort or time.

When my kids were young, I was still able to get away with preparing only a small variety of easy meals, but the older they got, the more dishes I learned to make at their request.

Still, I insisted on keeping it simple.

Honestly, I never understood why some cooks unnecessarily complicate meals. I have seen recipes that have several ingredients that don’t really seem to add much, if anything, to the dish. So, why bother?

It has always been important to me that whoever eats at my table will have plenty to enjoy and that includes my kids (I never agreed with the “You will eat what is served or you won’t eat” ideology) and, because I keep it simple, I can prepare a variety of dishes in a relatively short period of time.

I have a philosophy regarding being a great cook: Prepare food according to the tastes of those who will be eating it and they will love your cooking!

As far as I am concerned, start with the basic ingredients that make the dish what it is, adapt according to taste, and voila! you are an amazing cook!

The bottom line is that while there are certainly delicate recipes out there for specialty dishes, making delicious meals doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It’s not difficult to impress – just make sure it tastes good.

While some of the recipes on my blog are more time-consuming than others, they are all tried and true easy-shmeezy!

Of course, one always has to consider the conditions under which they cook. Weather (humidity, heat, cold), different types of ovens, different quality of pots, etc. – all of which can affect your cooking and baking.

Nevertheless, as I said, if I can do it, anyone can!

Food on Passover

Torah observant Jews do not eat chametz (the fermented products of five grains: wheat, spelt, barley, oats and rye).

In addition, Torah observant Ashkenazi Jews do not eat kitniyot (or kitniyos as pronunced in Ashkenazi Hebrew). These include: legumes, corn, rice, and similar that were deemed forbidden to eat by rabbis in the medieval period and are still not eaten today. Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews do not follow this tradition.

Many ovservant Ashkenazi Jews will not even eat the derivatives of these kitniyot, while others do (each family holds their own traditions regarding this).

Then, there are Ashkenazim who don’t eat “gebrochts”.

Gebrochts means “broken” in Yiddish – and in this case refers to matza that has absorbed liquid. Not eating gebrochts is observed by many in the Hasidic Jewish community and Ashkenazim who have taken on this tradition where they basically don’t mix anything wet with matza.

So, things like matzo sandwhiches, fried matzo, and even matzo balls are a no-no for them.

There is a joke that sums it all up:

On Passover, we should remember people who have little to eat on this holiday. They are called Ashkenazim.

Over the years, I have learned to adapt “normal” food for passover so that my family won’t complain about boring, tasteless, or repetitive meals.

I find that having good food and variety makes the week of Passover a very pleasant experience and I hope this recipe will help make yours just that!

A litte about Moussaka

Moussaka is an eggplant dish that is made in various places in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

The most well-known type of moussaka internationally is the Greek version, which normally includes 3 layers.

The bottom layer is slices of eggplant fried in olive oil. On top of that is the meat – ground lamb (or beef) with onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, herbs and spices. Then the meat is topped with cheese in Greek bechamel sauce.

The layers are place in a greased baking pan or dish, and baked until the top is a golden brown (which doesn’t take long at all as the bottom two layers were already cooked).

Other Mediterranean countries use different sauces or may sprinkle grated cheese or breadcrumbs.

The Turkish version includes fried eggplant, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and ground beef and is not served in layers.

There are also versions that use zucchini, carrots, and potatoes. In fact, in places such as Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, and others, potatoes are used instead of eggplant.

In Arab countries, moussaka is a cooked salad with the main ingredients being eggplant and tomatoes and is mostly served cold as an appetizer (moussaka = chilled).

Those are generalities and everyone kind of does there own thing when preparing this dish. This particularly holds true in Israel were one can find recipes that vary in ingredients (include various herbs and spices and may include both eggplant and potatoes).

Israeli Style Moussaka for Passover is not only kosher for Passover, but also one of the simplest non-dairy versions out there.

A little about eggplants

The eggplant is native to India and Asia, where it can be found growing wild and it is believed that eggplants were brought to Europe sometime during the 7th or 8th century.

Australians and Americans call the vegetable eggplant, while in England it is called a aubergine from the French word for this vegetable.

Because of it’s meaty texture, eggplant is used instead of meat in some vegetarian versions of meat recipes.

While there are a variety of types of eggplants, the one for this recipe is the large egg-shaped (or teardrop-shaped) blackish purple one with the meaty inside.

Eggplants have health benefits as they contain antioxidants like vitamins A and C, which help protect your cells against damage and are low in calories.

About cooking eggplant

Eggplants can be roasted, baked, steamed, deep fried, or sautéd.

Before cooking an eggplant, cut off the top part where the green is (called a calyx). The bottom tip should also be removed, but this is not imperative. The skin is perfectly fine to eat, but it must be cooked well, otherwise it may come out chewy.

This recipe can use either peeled eggplants or with the skin (having the skin on will not ruin the recipe).

Eggplant is naturally a little bitter. If you find that to be the case, you can draw out the bitterness by sprinkling it with salt and let it sit a while. If you are using slices or pieces, slightly salt after cutting. I have personally never found this to be a problem when cooking with eggplants

Using salt before cooking can help prevent the eggplant from absorbing too much oil and becoming greasy if using oil with the eggplant recipe (I normally just pat the pieces with a paper towel if need be).

If you do use salt, MAKE SURE to rinse it off before cooking the eggplant or the salt will become a part of your dish!

Personally, I have never salted my eggplants before using them (and I have used eggplants in two countries) and have never had any problem with bitterness, but if you have any concern, please do.

If a recipe calls for frying, but you prefer not to do so because of the calories the oil will add to the recipe, you can spray with cooking oil and bake instead.

Yield: 9

Dairy Free Israeli Moussaka for Passover

Israeli Style Moussaka with ground beef covered with tomato slices in a clear square baking dish

Moussaka, Israeli style, for Passover

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 2 medium eggplants (approximately 9 inches long)
  • 1 medium onion dice or chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks diced or chopped very small
  • 1 - 28oz can diced tomatoes or equivalent, drained, kosher for Passover
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or other ground meat)
  • 2 tbsp chicken consomme powder or beef bullion powder, kosher for Passover
  • 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste, kosher for Passover
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup matza cake meal
  • 1 - 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • oil for frying



  1. Sliced eggplant lengthwise into 6 slices each (you should have a total of 12 slices).
  2. Place evenly on baking sheet covered with baking paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  3. Place in a preheated oven at 400° F for 20 - 40 minutes (or lightly fry) until slices have softened, slightly dehydrated, and browned a little.
  4. Let cool.

Meat Mixture

  1. Pour enough oil into a large saucepan to just cover the bottom.
  2. On medium heat, saute diced onions and celery until mostly clear.
  3. Add diced tomatoes, ground beef, chicken consomme powder, tomato paste, and pepper.
  4. Mix well and cook on medium heat until meat and tomatoes are thoroughly cooked.
  5. Add matza cake meal a little at a time and mix until the liquid has completely soaked up.

Prepring the dish

  1. Lay three slices of eggplant on the bottom of a 9" x 9" baking pan
  2. Cover with a layer of the meat mixture, then another layer of eggplant. Repeat until the eggplant and meat mixture are done (if you use 3 slices of eggplant per layer, then you will use 1/4 of the meat mixture in between each layer and if you use 4 slices of eggplant per layer, then you will use 1/3 of the meat mixture in between each layer.
  3. Cover the top with slices of tomato and sprinkle a little matza cake meal on top (optional).
  4. Bake at 400° for approximately 20 - 30 minutes or until the tomato on top is cooked.


* Kosher for Passover

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 257mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 6gSugar: 20gProtein: 24g

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