Recipe: Sunflower Artichokes

A green sunflower head, the main ingredient in Chef Alan Bergo’s sunflower artichokes Photo: Alan Bergo

Serves 2 as an appetizer

1 large green sunflower
5 cups (1.25 L) unsalted water or vegetable stock, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Olive or Smude’s sunflower oil, for serving (optional)

Bring 4 cups (945 ml) of the water to a simmer in a tall saucepot, then cook the sunflower head for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the sunflower from the pot, then transfer it to a sauté pan with the remaining water and a good pinch of salt. Cover the pan, then simmer, turning occasionally, until the sunflower bud is tender when pierced with a knife, about 3 to 4 minutes, depending on size. Make sure the buds are tender, as you won’t be able to clean them properly otherwise. Allow the sunflower to cool, then transfer it to a cutting board and trim with a paring knife, first removing the outer leaves, then scraping out any flower petals from the inner portion of the bud, just as you would with an artichoke.

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Do not remove the base of the stem. It’s delicious—almost the best part of the plant, just like an artichoke. If you won’t be using the buds immediately, transfer them to a lidded container and refrigerate until needed. I like to serve them cut into pieces, warmed, drizzled with Smude’s oil and lemon, and crowned with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.

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