Rocket Burger

KORNELIA SANTORO innovates to make her reluctant son eat salads

For many years I have desperately tried to make my son eat salad and other green, leafy vegetables. I added his favourite fried bacon and tuna to the greens. I tried convincing him by explaining how good green vegetables are for his body; I tried promises and threats before finally giving up.


Some time ago, I got inspired to a new effort.  I watched Rachael Ray on TV showing how you can hide vegetables in minced meat dishes. So I started another attempt to get the healthy greens into my son.

My first experiment failed miserably. I had mixed boiled sweet potatoes, carrots, spring onions and leeks with minced chicken and fried these burgers in a pan. Unfortunately they turned dark outside before they cooked through. I did not mind the sweet potatoes, but my men flatly refused to eat these burgers. Luckily our dogs are not so discerning when it comes to food.

I kept on thinking which vegetables would make a nice mix and had the idea of testing rucola or rocket salad, like the English call it. I love rucola in salads or just plain with a fried piece of fish. When we are in Italy, many times our dinner is simply a lovely steak with rucola and cherry tomatoes on the side. Nowadays you can find rucola quite frequently in the market.

I had never heard of cooking rucola but decided to give it a try – and it worked. My son ate them without complaining – although my husband kept on asking me about the strangely green colour of the burgers. I avoided answering this questions until dinner was over.

It seems, at long last I have found a way to get some green leafy vegetables into my darling’s belly – without a fight.

Wishing you happy cooking, always!

Ingredients (for 12 burgers):

1 packet (450 grams) chicken mince
2 cups oats
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 bundles rucola
1 bundle basil
1 bundle spring onions
1 big carrot
3 cloves garlic
50 grams sesame seeds
5 tablespoons olive oil extra vergine

Wash the rucola and the basil. Cut the end of the stems of the rucola and sort out all yellow or damaged leaves. Remove unblemished basil leaves from the stems. Clean the spring onions. Peel and cut the carrots into pieces. Chop the vegetables and the basil finely in a blender. Put them into a big bowl. Add the chicken mince, the oats, the flour, the eggs, the crushed garlic and salt and pepper according to taste. Combine all the ingredients well. You should have dough which you can form into burgers. If it is too soft, add some more oats.

Spread the olive oil over a cookie sheet. Put the sesame seeds into a plate. Form the dough into flat, round burgers and roll them in the sesame seeds so they are covered well on all sides. Place them onto the oiled cookie sheet. Bake the burgers in the oven at 190 degrees for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes flip them over so they cook through evenly. The sesame seeds should show a lovely, golden shade. Enjoy!

Kornelia Santoro

Kornelia Santoro

GERMAN WRITER KORNELIA SANTORO follows the cutting edge of food knowledge since teenage years. After completing her education as a certified journalist, she worked for a decade as news editor for radio and political journalist for a newspaper in Bavaria. She also coached young journalists in Poland during a program of the European Union, shortly after the opening of the Iron Curtain. Then she met her Italian husband while riding an Enfield Bullet through India. The couple settled in Goa. After the birth of her son, Kornelia Santoro started writing cookbooks. As a creative spirit she loves to experiment in the kitchen and to explore the human relationship with food in a profound way. Her three cookbooks, Kornelia’s Kitchen – Mediterranean Cooking for India, Kornelia’s Kitchen 2 – Cooking for Allergies and Cooking for Happiness have all won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for India. She also writes for magazines and websites in India and Europe. Kornelia Santoro believes that “everything is possible and happiness is a moment of bliss.”