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Braised Sunflowers With Vegan Ricotta Cheese

Yes, you can eat sunflowers, and it doesn't get tastier than this recipe. Make it vegan with my cashew ricotta cheese.

sunflower

Photo: Moyan Brenn (Flickr)

This recipe uses the meat of the flower head. The petals will be garnish.

We have a lot of sunflowers in our kitchen garden and the gold finches devour them. I wondered how the flowers tasted.

I searched the web and, to my delight, found this wonderful cooking demo by Chef Charles Draghi.

His recipe called for certain things that I never used in my cooking — ricotta cheese, capers, anchovy and wine. I inspected my backyard to see if I had what it took to adapt the recipe to make vegan braised sunflowers. I sure did!

Here’s my version, complete with a recipe for vegan ricotta cheese, adapted from The Simple Veganista.

We all loved it and hope you do too!

Vegan Ricotta Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 tablespoon chopped herbs
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. Soak cashews and walnuts for an hour.
  2. Drain and grind with the rest of the ingredients to make the cheese.
  3. Put in an airtight container and refrigerate for an hour.

Braised Sunflowers

Ingredients

  • 4-5 sunflowers
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • several sprigs of fresh herbs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon chopped herbs
  • either breadcrumbs or nut powder (made from ground walnuts, peanuts and almonds)

Cooking Directions

  1. Remove petals from sunflowers and set aside. Cut off the dark green bottom of the sunflower as well as the top yellow face. What should remain is the white meat of the flower head.
  2. Lay the cut sunflowers upside down in a pan. Pour 1 cup apple cider vinegar and the water over top. Combine with the sprigs of herbs, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook on low heat for about 25 minutes. If flowers look dry, add a bit more water.
  3. To prepare the vinaigrette, mix 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, raisins, chopped herbs and a splash of the sunflower cooking liquid. Set aside for half an hour.
  4. Place the cooked sunflowers in a baking tray. Place a round of vegan ricotta cheese on each sunflower head. Sprinkle either breadcrumbs or nut powder on the cheese. Bake the sunflowers at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove and place in a serving plate. Pour vinaigrette over top, sprinkle with sunflower petals and serve!

Rama Cousik

Rama Cousik grew up in India, watching and helping her mom cook. The taste, the texture, and the way she feels when she eats seasonal vegetables and fruits are indescribable. Hence, no matter where she lives, the idea of seasonal food is an essential part of her food philosophy.

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