Lebanese Lemony Ground Turkey and Spinach with Pine Nuts

by | May 9, 2021

I have many food philosophies.

Enjoy your favorite morning pastry every so often with as much butter and jam as you desire. Buy foods that fit easily into your life, and that you genuinely enjoy. Keep your fridge stocked. Don’t make dinner for your family that you, yourself hate. Eat breakfast. Eat apples. Cook at home. Go out to dinner. When your friend who was born in another country tells you about a favorite dish from their childhood – get your hands on the recipe. Recipes passed down through families (Lebanese or Cajun, for example) seem to always be simple, hearty, and delicious. If you’re looking for a unique, simple, and delicious meal, try this Lebanese Lemony Ground Turkey With Spinach recipe.

We eat out so much these days. Our lives are busy and often we get overwhelmed with what to cook after a busy day. It does not have to be difficult. Traditional recipes may sometimes feel daunting and time-consuming. And that is true for many. Take mole for example – a labor of love. But regardless of the time it takes, these family recipes are nutritious, highly satisfying, and often don’t take long to prepare. You just need a few atypical ingredients. In this case – allspice.

I urge you to dig into your own family’s traditions and history. Is there a dish from your childhood you remember eating at your grandparent’s table? No matter what it is, or how “healthy” or “unhealthy” it may seem, make it. It will bring you back in a way nothing else can. Cultural foods often get deemed “unhealthy” – which is frankly just racism. Getting in touch with your culinary roots can even psychologic benefits as it reunites us with our ancestors.

I help people heal their relationships with food.

Back when I lived in NYC, I knew this sweet Lebanese-American family. Zaki would make this incredible dish his mother (or grandmother?) used to make. I’ve recreated this recipe with the help of other food bloggers. It’s pretty quick, nutritious, delicious, and perfect for a weeknight meal. Leftovers are great for lunch the next couple days.

Speaking of peoples’ mother’s recipes, I am CRAZY for Aziz Ansari’s mom’s chicken korma!! Last year, before they stopped publishing, I was reading The Lucky Peach and came across this interview with Aziz as he was promoting his show, Master of None. His real-life parents play his TV parents! Amusing. But also – the korma! I thought it sounded simple enough, and healthy. Chicken marinated in yogurt, turmeric, garlic, and ginger and then slow-cooked in ground cashews and cilantro. Now the recipe has been re-posted by several food bloggers – they are all very smart. Olga Massov, thank you. Kark and Phillip from Feral Cooks, thank you. Spain vs Korea Recipes, thank you! But here is the Lebanesey dish. Please try it.

Lebanese Lemon Turkey and Spinach with Pine Nuts

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes


  • 1 pound – 20 oz ground turkey (or beef or lamb)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bag frozen spinach
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (not optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • For the rice:
  • 1 cup rice, rinsed
  • 1.5-2.5 cups water (less for white, more for brown)


Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in large flat bottom skillet (with a lid) over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook until well-softened, about 5 minutes. Add ground turkey and spices and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring until cooked – about 10 minutes. Add spinach and 2 cups water – it should be brothy but not too soupy. Stir to loosen and combine everything. Once the spinach has softened and is all covered in water, add chopped cilantro. Cover spinach mixture and cook for 30 minutes. (Now start the rice.)

After 30 minutes, add juice from one lemon. Taste. Ponder. Then add additional salt, pepper, and lemon to taste.

Rice: It’s yummiest if you toast it by cooking it in a tad bit of olive oil for a few minutes to slightly brown it, then add 2.5 cups water or broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt. This is optional but tastes quite nice if you’ve got an extra 3 minutes. Brown or white is fine. You do you.

While this is cooking, toast pine nuts in a small skillet on low heat until golden and fragrant.

To serve, use 1/2-1 cup rice and top with a ladle or two of the brothy spinach mixture. Top with a sprinkling of pine nuts and additional lemon juice. The lemon is really important.

I hope you enjoy this lemony ground turkey and spinach with pine nut recipes as much as I do. I’d love to hear comments on how the recipe went or especially your favorite traditional recipe ideas!

About Emily

Emily Van Eck, MS, RDN specializes in intuitive eating, mindfulness-based eating practices, embodiment with food and movement, and healing from years of weight-bias and disordered eating. She helps all kinds of people find balance, consistency, and peace with their eating habits so they can feel confident to get outta their heads and into their bodies. Emily is a registered dietitian and certified Intuitive Eating counselor with a master’s degree in nutrition science. Read more about her here.

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Hey there, I´m Emily

A non-diet and weight-inclusive dietitian, intuitive eating coach, and body image healer. Here on the blog, I focuses on exploring intuitive eating, gentle nutrition, the complex arena of body image and feminism, anti-oppression, and all the ways these things intersect. I want us all to be free to own our appetites, and our desires, and eat really, really well. 


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