This is for my friends who have been inquiring about cooking sunflower heads. Apparently, the taste compares to that of an artichoke heart but with an added earthy flavor. Braising sunflowers is new to me and it has definitely piqued my interest.
I did a little research and I found a step-by-step video, along with the recipe, posted at How2Heroes of Chef Charles Draghi preparing sunflower heads. Let me know if you are brave enough to give it a try (make sure your source is pesticide free). This recipe includes a lot of wonderful ingredients and it looks delicious!

Braised Sunflowers with Herbed Ricotta by Chef Charles Draghi 
Serves 4 as a light appetizer

Ingredients For The Sunflowers
  • 4 large sunflowers, stems removed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (or 4 dried bay leaves)
  • basil sprigs, leaves removed & chopped
  • 2 parsley sprigs leaves removed & chopped
  • 2 mint sprigs, leaves removed & chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 5 thyme sprigs leaves removed & chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup high quality ricotta
  • 1 heaping tbsp of the chopped herb leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • braising liquid left from cooking the sunflowers (should be about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp of the chopped herb leaves
  • ½ cup gold raisins
  • ¼ cup rinsed capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • freshly ground white pepper

How-to Prepare Sunflowers

  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Remove the yellow petals from the sunflowers, and reserve for garnish.
  3. Using a sharp paring knife, trim off the outer dark green areas, and the inner small yellow face of the sunflowers until they are trimmed down to the light green and white center underneath. (They will look like artichoke bottoms, but with compact tiny tubes that look like a corn cob).
  4. Place the cleaned sunflowers into a saucepan, face-down, and add all of the other ingredients (except for the chopped herbs). Season liberally with salt and pepper, and then place a lid on the saucepan, and let braise over a low-medium heat for about 45 minutes, or until very tender and lightly browned.
  5. Remove from the pan and let cool.

Prepare Filling & Bake Sunflowers

  1. Place sunflowers on a baking sheet. Mix all of the filling ingredients together, and put a large dollop onto each braised sunflower, enough to cover.
  2. Sprinkle a liberal amount of breadcrumbs onto each stuffed sunflower, and bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 7-10 minutes.

Prepare Vinaigrette

  1. Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients together, and let sit for at least 30 minutes before using.

Plate & Serve

  1. Place the sunflowers onto plates, drizzle the sauce around, and garnish with the petals and a sprinkling of the remaining chopped herbs.


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05/16/2012 11:37pm

Oh this is a must try. I have to go tell my sunflowers to hurry up and grow so I can do this : ) Thanks Miss Lady Bug

05/19/2012 2:05pm

I can't wait either. I have lots of seeds just waiting to sprout!

05/31/2012 9:42pm

I never would have thought the sunflower heads themselves would be edible.. or even tasty! I hope you post a follow-up after you try the recipe!

05/31/2012 10:25pm

Me either! :) I only heard of this when some of my gardening friends asked me about it. I was intrigued and had to do some research... They (unbelievably) look tasty. I have challenged the first person to actually give it a try and report back. My sunflowers are only sprouts at the moment. I had huge mammoth flowers last year that would have been perfect for this. We will see how it goes... Thanks for commenting and I will keep everyone posted.

06/14/2012 1:50pm

Mine are only sprouts right now as well, but I think I will try this when they are grown! Sounds so interesting and delicious!!

06/14/2012 2:04pm

It is interesting! If you try it, please report back!

06/21/2012 9:09pm

I love Sunflowers, not sure if I would want to eat them though. But this was very intresting. Never heard of anyone eating them. Thanks for the info.

06/22/2012 5:03pm

I think with all those yummy ingredients it would have to taste good!


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    Miss Lady Bug
    I'm a southern garden girl. Mason jars, aprons, vintage quilts, summer porches, sweet tea, and sunflowers are a few of my favorite things.
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