Turkey and Eggplant Meatballs

With kale, yogurt, and pomegranate

I love tangy dried spices, and this recipe uses two of my favorites: sumac and ground omani black lime. The omani lime adds some funky citrus notes to the turkey meatballs, and the sumac provides some bright fruitless to the yogurt sauce. Even better, the meatballs stay super moist thanks to the addition of pureed roasted eggplant! Finish it all with some ghee sautéed kale and punchy pomegranate seeds for a super easy and balanced weeknight meal.


  • Not sure where to find these spices? Oaktown Spice Shop has you covered!
  • If you don’t want to purchase two new spices, you can certainly sub the omani lime with sumac in the meatballs themselves.

Serves 3-4


For the meatballs

  • 1 small globe eggplant (13 oz, or about the length of your hand)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp omani black lime powder
  • ¾ tsp cayenne 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon 
  • 2+ tablespoons canola oil

For the kale

  • 1 bunch of kale, chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice


  • 1 cup full fat yogurt or labneh
  • Sumac
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Torn mint leaves

For the meatballs: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
  2. Slice the eggplant down the middle length wise. Lightly coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place cut side down on a baking sheet. 
  3. Roast until the flesh is extremely soft and can easily be scraped out with a spoon, about 35-45 minutes. 
  4. Carefully remove the flesh from the skins and place in a small bowl. Use a fork to mush the eggplant into a rough paste. Set in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to cool. 
  5. Reduce the oven temp to 425 degrees. 
  6. Combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, mint, scallions, and spices in a medium sized bowl. 
  7. Add ¾ cup of the cooled eggplant mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. 
  8. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the mixture into about 18-20 balls and place on the parchment. 
  9. Heat a large pan, cast iron works great here,  over medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. 
  10. Working in batches, fry the balls for 1-2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place completed balls back on the baking sheet. I like to flatten the balls a bit for more even cooking. Ensure each ball is about 1-2 inches apart. 
  11. Once all the meatballs are browned on both sides, place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes, until fully cooked through. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees or above. 

For the kale:

  1. While the meatballs bake, heat a pan (you can use the same pan you used to fry the meatballs) and add 2 tbsp of ghee. 
  2. Add the kale and saute until tender, about 3-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and some lemon juice. Remove from heat. 


  1. When the meatballs are ready, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly. 
  2. Spread the yogurt onto the bottom of a serving plate and dust generously with sumac.
  3. Top with the kale, meatballs, torn mint leaves, and pomegranate seeds.