Garlic Habanero Chicken Meatballs with Kale Polenta

Garlic Habanero Chicken Meatballs with Kale Polenta


Because sometimes I need some nutrition in my life. You get it, right? I obviously wish I could survive on milkshakes and cupcakes. And cupcake milkshakes. But sometimes I require an actual meal. However, if you’re going to force me to eat an actual meal, it’s going to need to involve some carbs. Fine, you can mix my carbs with kale and call it a day. Trust me, it works.

I wanted to make a meal that would create some leftovers and meatballs were an easy decision. Chicken because I wanted healthy; garlic and habanero because I wanted flavor. Polenta because I wanted carbs. And kale because I wanted (again) healthy. That was easy. I wish all decisions in life were like that.

Garlic Habanero Chicken Meatballs with Kale Polenta (serves 4… with extra polenta):
Print this recipe!

Garlic Habanero Chicken Meatballs:

  • 1 small onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 habaneros, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/4 C bread crumbs
  • 1/3 C milk
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

(Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees)


Of course, start by chopping your onion and mincing your garlic and habanero. I haven’t featured this little guy here in a while. My trusty old Chef’n Garlic Zoom! That’s because I lost the blade for a while… Before finally finding it in my VeggieChop. Yes, my kitchen is stocked with Chef’n. And I love it.


Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onion, garlic, and habanero. Cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes.


In a large bowl, mix together chicken, bread crumbs, milk, habanero mixture, basil and egg.


Form 12 meatballs and place in a lightly oiled baking dish.


Bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, you can get going on your kale polenta.

Kale Polenta:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 6 C water
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 1/2 C polenta
  • 3 T butter
  • 4 T parmesan


Chop onion and mince garlic.

Also, chop and clean your kale. Basically you’ll want to remove the stems from the kale and chop into strips.


Now, sautΓ© onion in olive oil for about 3 minutes.


Add garlic and then kale. Season with salt and pepper.


Cook until the kale is wilted.


Put mixture in a food processor and process until smooth.


Now, bring water and milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk in the polenta and continue to whisk until it’s smooth. This could take about 20 minutes, unless you’re using quick cooking polenta and then, of course, it’s much faster.


If you like a thinner polenta, feel free to add in more water (or milk).

Now, stir in the butter and parmesan.

And fold in the kale puree.


Season to taste. And serve meatballs on top of polenta. And sprinkle some parmesan on top.


Polenta isn’t exactly known for being healthy, but stir in a whole bunch of kale, and you’re packing in the vitamins and nutrients. I absolutely loved the polenta, though it definitely needed salt and pepper. I might mix in some hot pepper flakes next time for an extra kick.


Everyone loves meatballs (fine, unless you’re a vegetarian), but chicken meatballs (especially when made with chicken breast) are especially healthy. And when they’re fully loaded with garlic and habanero, they’re definitely not short on flavor. I ended up using 2 whole habaneros because that’s how we like it around here. They were definitely spicy, but not overly so. If you want even more flavor, I’d recommend adding some parmesan into the actual meatballs.


Considering you’ll want 3 meatballs per serving, this meal only made about 4 complete servings. But there was leftover polenta for days. Days. And that, in my opinion, is a very good thing.

So, there. I had my carbs. And I had a healthy meal, too. That’s the way life should be.

How do you try to healthify your carbs?


20 Responses to "Garlic Habanero Chicken Meatballs with Kale Polenta"

  1. Erica says:

    These sound phenom! I want the polenta alone

  2. Kathryn says:

    I love carbs so much and anything that makes them a bit healthier is a bonus in my book. These meatballs look so good too. Yum!

  3. Michelle says:

    I love healthy but flavorful meals like this one!

  4. So this is definitely happening. Spicy meatballs are a favorite…and kale…and polenta…and cheese (too easy?). Now I just need to pick a night πŸ™‚

  5. Barbarella says:

    I LOVE the new option to print the recipe without all the pics. This sounds really yummy – another use for the kale growing in my garden πŸ™‚

  6. You know I have never had kale. This recipe just might push me to try it. It looks delicious and I love polenta!

  7. sweeter salt says:

    Like the idea of mixing in kale! I’m always trying to trick my husband into eating dark greens, but he hates them. Chopping them up and mixing with carbs – brilliant!


  8. I genuinely love kale – mixing it into polenta is such a great idea. btw, I totally thought the meatballs were biscuits at first. I’d say that even if it was a meal of biscuits and polenta, the kale helps even things out!

  9. The kale polenta sounds amazing! I’ll have to make that soon!

  10. Love this use of kale – totally different! Looks like a great meal

  11. Alison says:

    LONG LIVE THE GARLIC ZOOM! Also: those chicken meatballs look fab.

  12. Haley says:

    Um, yes please! I have yet to make my own polenta, but it seems straight-forward enough… Definitely going to be trying this one πŸ™‚

  13. newlywed says:

    This is a great recipe! Thanks for sharing! I try to add lots of veggies into my carbs, so I can eat a smaller portion without feeling like, well, I’m eating a small portion.

  14. I’ve never had polenta! Is it like… corn meal porridge or something? This looks so crazy gourmet and creative! Well done πŸ™‚

  15. Reeni says:

    I love this from top to bottom! It’s perfect comfort food right now as the weather is turning cold here. Healthify? Huh? Heehee.

  16. Kelly says:

    Wait…I’m supposed to be healthifying my carbs? J/K. This looks fantastic. Every once and awhile I do enjoy a good poultry meatball. I usually use a mix of dark and light meat in mine because it makes it just a bit moister.

  17. Shannon says:

    sounds awesome!! i made polenta for the first time a couple nights ago was totally smitten… love the idea of throwing some kale in there πŸ™‚ YUM.

  18. Kelly says:

    This sounds wonderful! Definitely on the menu for this weekend now…

  19. this sounds so great. kale is literally my favorite green these days…gotta try this πŸ™‚

  20. Jackie says:

    Made this last weekend. Followed your directions exactly. The habaneros must mellow out when they cook – the heat was not bad at all. Absolutely delicious – this one is a keeper.

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