Greek Turkey Meatballs with Fennel Marinara

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Meatballs that are breadcrumb and gluten free, check. We know that’s possible. What about meatballs that don’t need almond flour? Cccchhheeccckkkkk. We were inspired by our love of lemon and mint to make these Greek flavored meatballs. The only logical choice for a bread crumb/almond flour alternative was….eggplant.


  • 1 lb ground turkey (94% lean/6% fat)
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 3 T fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • S&P


Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Slice the green fronds off the fennel bulb and slice the bulb in half, lengthwise. Remove the core…

Slice the fennel thinly. Remove the skin from the eggplant with a vegetable peeler and slice that thinly as well. Place the eggplant and fennel, drizzled with olive oil and s & p, on a baking sheet. Bake until the eggplant has softened–about 12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the slices). The eggplant will likely soften before the fennel. Remove the eggplant from the pan (adding it to the mixing bowl, see below) and continue to cook the fennel until it develops a bit of color and is soft.

While the eggplant and fennel are cooking…

In a large soup pot, saute the onion and garlic until it’s soft. Add about 1/4 of the onion & garlic mixture into a large bowl, leaving the other 3/4 in the soup pot.

Once eggplant and fennel have finished cooking…
Once the eggplant is out of the oven, run your knife through it until it’s been pulverized, add to the mixing bowl, along with the lemon zest, mint, ground turkey, egg and some s & p. Mix well with your hands. The mixture will be wet.

Scoop the meatballs, using a cookie scoop or spoon, onto a greased baking sheet (once the eggplant and fennel are done, just use the same baking sheet) and bake until they’re cooked through and have some brown-ness to them, about 15 minutes.

To the soup pot, add the cooked fennel, lemon juice, chicken stock and 2 cans of crushed tomatoes. Let it come to a simmer.

Add the meatballs to the soup pot and let it all simmer together for a few minutes before serving.

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  • Reply
    November 16, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Oh my word. I was just thinking I needed a new meatball recipe and this looked fantastic. Thanks for sharing – it’s definitely going on my menu!

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      November 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

      thanks so much!

    • Reply
      May 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      YOU ARE A DISH;-)

  • Reply
    November 21, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Approximately how many meatballs does this make?

  • Reply
    brandon keatley
    November 22, 2010 at 8:48 am

    depends on how big you make ’em. you’ve got 1 lb of meat bulked up by some eggplant. so…if you manage to make them all 1 oz, you’d probably yield 20-30.

  • Reply
    December 15, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    absolutely delicious…I’m not an eggplant fan and it was delicious…I made pretty massive meatballs and I yielded 10 of them.

  • Reply
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    February 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm

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  • Reply
    Chris B.
    April 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Great recipe, very delicious with a unique flavor that I will add to the rotation. The next time I make it, I will double the sauce. I eat paleo in Zone proportions and the sauce, as made, coupled with the protein for 4 meals (4 protein blocks per) makes just over 1 block of carb per meal. I used 1.25 lbs of ground turkey and made 16 meatballs so the baking time was closer to 25 minutes due to meatball size.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was very tasty. I think I’ll reduce the lemon juice by half next time because it tended to overwhelm the other flavors. Thanks for great recipes.

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      January 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

      you’re very welcome patrick. i’m a very, very big fan of tang and zip, so i tend to overdo it on that side of the flavor “wheel”.

  • Reply
    March 6, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Say we wanted to scrap the eggplant and use almond flour.. any idea how much I should sub in?

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      March 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

      probably about 1/2 cup would do

      • Reply
        March 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm


        Tried these last night, but I did use the eggplant/fennel. The taste is not at all what I was expecting but mega good. It was nice change from the spicy-pepper-steak rut I was stuck in =X

        I might try them with beef next time also.. OR try those thai basil beef -balls you just posted up.

        Thanks again for sharing your recipes. I’ve tried many of them, and all have been excellent!

        • Reply
          March 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm

          One more thing.. Apparently if you can’t find fennel you can sub in anise. I was having one hell of a time finding the stuff. Luckily the produce guy was wondering about and told me that they are nearly identical.

        • Reply
          megan keatley
          March 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

          so glad they worked out for you and that you liked them!

  • Reply
    March 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    SO good! I actually forgot the egg and they still worked out nicely. Also halved the lemon. This would be bomb with a fresh pomodoro sauce, too. Great stuff, thanks!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Ya’ll these are amazing. I’m new to your site (LOVE) and this is the 3 or 4 recipe I have tried- all have been great. My meatballs turned out somewhat soft and crumbly so I sort of mashed the leftover meatballs and mixed some of the extra chicken stock to a great bowl of soup for lunch the following day.

    Can’t wait to see the cookbook!

  • Reply
    Rochelle P
    February 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    SO DELICIOUS! I made this last night and served if over some roasted spaghetti squash. All the meatballs were gone quickly. I had quite a bit of leftover sauce and didn’t want to waste such goodness, so today I cooked some shrimp in the sauce and served it over a bed of baby spinach. Excellent, thank you!

  • Reply
    May 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I only made the meatballs and not the sauce (no fennel in my store that day) and they are won-der-ful! The eggplant really does the trick for the texture. I was amazed! Definitely a repeater! I had about 5 green olives and about two good tablespoons worth of sun-dried tomatoes in oil that I needed to get rid of, so I made a little hole in the meatball and hid olives in some and tomatoes in some and nothing in the rest.. That turned out well and it was fun to be surprised. The tomato ones were really good! Definitely will be doing these again.

    Your creativity is so impressive!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2013 at 11:54 am

    These sound delish! Just curious though … why do you remove the skin from the eggplant? Is it a texture thing?

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