I recently came across sunflower buds at the Farmers Market.
The sign on the produce basket suggested they would be great steamed and tasted similar to artichoke, in addition to be liver cleansing. But just the fact they were edible, a discovery for me, was good enough for me to take a few home.
The same vendor also had appealing packs of purple mini carrots with a forest of tops. These were also too pretty and good to miss. The green part of carrots is often ignored, but it s very usable. Both these produce came to good use as I was rushing to get a healthy lunch during a busy day.
As I was trying the buds for the first time, I followed the recommendation of steaming them, but left them to cool down to use them in a salad. The salad included flavorful, and a tad hot, radish flowers, a simple drizzle of olive oil, plenty of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of roasted sunflower seeds (which as one might expected paired well with the steamed buds).
The carrots were left raw, and I used the tops to make a very quick dip. The carrot tops were mild and had a subtle sweetness which worked nicely with pistachios based on a quick check. So, I simply pulsed the tops of the entire bunch, about ½ cup of roasted pistachios, about ¼ c of olive oil, salt, pepper, and enough water to obtain a smooth texture.
I had some heirloom tomatoes and basil in the fridge, so I sliced a few of them and shredded some basil leaves to complete my lunch, which turned out to be a feast :). The sunflower buds were a great discovery: they indeed tasted like artichokes, but were a tad bitter, and very aromatic (more like a flower). There is a lot to explore in terms of how to cook with them. Any suggestion welcome!
By the way:
- I found both the sunflower buds and the carrots at the SF Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, at the Marin Roots Organic Farm stall.
- I wanted a light lunch as I was busying through the day so I added little oil but, more oil, even cream of your choice, can be added to make it richer. It can be used as a spread or even as a coarse pesto.
- Of course this veggie lunch is naturally gluten- and dairy-free and will also make Vegan and Vegetarian eaters happy.