Sunflowers are a summertime staple! Their flowers normally begin to open right at the beginning of the season.
Helianthus annuus (the common sunflower’s scientific name) is native to North America. These showy plants typically reach up to 8 ft (with the largest one recorded at 30 ft)! They grow best in full sun and well-draining, fertile soil with a heavy mulching.
In addition to adding beauty to our gardens, sunflowers also make for a tasty meal! I know you’ve snacked on roasted sunflower seeds and maybe have even tried sunflower butter, but did you know that the entire plant is actually edible?
The unopened buds can be steamed and served like artichokes, the leaves make a delicious pesto, and the petals add a lovely garnish to any dish. Check out the recipes below!
Steamed Sunflower Buds
unopened sunflower buds
1/4 cup of butter
3-5 garlic cloves (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- Snip off any unopened buds from the plant
- Steam them covered for 5-10 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Cook garlic in a sauce pot until fragrant (garlic powder will work in a pinch, just add it directly into melted butter), and then add butter until melted
- Pour 1/2 of the melted garlic butter over top of the steamed buds and serve with a side of the remaining garlic butter for dipping.
Sunflower Leaf Pesto
2 cups of washed leaves
3-4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil (or more if not blending)
Dash of red pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
- Collect leaves from plant.
- Combine, washed leaves, olive oil, garlic, and spices to a food processor and blend until mostly smooth.
- Use the finished product on pizza, pasta, salads and more!
This is a great option to use the leaves as they are often too tough for sauteing or to use in salads. Young leaves will work well for those other options.
Give these recipes a try! And if you do, make sure to post them to Facebook and Instagram and tag us (@jackfrostgardens)! We would love to repost your creations.