Sunflowers are one of summertime's gifts. Everyone knows that the seeds are edible and even the oil is gaining popularity because it is rich in vitamin E and low in saturated fats. Yet how many people realize that you can also eat the flowers?
They are considered to be at their best while still in their unopened bud stage. These young specimens can simply be steamed and their flavor will be remarkably reminiscent of artichokes. We have been playing with a more developed flower because that's what's available in the market now. As the plant develops so does its inherent bitterness. The flavor of the more mature hearts speaks of pine sap and artichoke hearts with that underlying nutty flavor of the sunflower itself.
The sunflower buds pictured here were braised with lemon juice, shallot flowers and saffron. They are tender, bittersweet, and herbaceous. The only question now is what to serve them with tomorrow?