Grilled sunflower heads: Bouquet staple or bussin’ menu addition?

I know the headline sounds like clickbait, but hear me out. Those bright blooms that you’re getting from your boyfriend as an anniversary gift can be seasoned with a variety of spices, grilled for a few minutes, and eaten—maybe even for said anniversary dinner, if you’re both adventurous enough. Talk about the sunflower’s versatility, am I right?

Grilled Sunflower heads
Grilled Sunflower heads

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With all wacky food dishes introduced on the app that dominates our daily screen time, some are ready to embrace this unconventional vegan dish, though a fair share of TikTok users remain confused and a little skeptical. Grilled sunflower heads were first introduced in 2018, where it made its debut on the menu of a restaurant in Pittsburgh. Since then, chefs and farmers alike have undertaken the challenge with their own iterations of this dish, much to the amazement and equal parts bewilderment of TikTok users worldwide.

A screengrab of a video harvesting sunflower seeds
A screengrab of a video harvesting sunflower seeds

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Brian Brigantti, who runs Redleaf Ranch in Tennessee, posted a video which has since garnered over 28 million views showing the preparation and cooking process. He advises viewers to pick a sunflower that isn’t fully developed, after which the petals are removed, followed by the smaller flowers, in order to reveal the sunflower seeds. This is because the sunflower seeds are softer, and thus easier for consumption.

adding seasoning to the flower
adding seasoning to the flower

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The stripped head is then marinated with a combination of oil, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and onion powder. The petal-less sunflower is then placed face-down on a grill and left to cook for approximately five minutes, before Brigantti tops it off with spring onion, and Tajín seasoning. Those who have given this unorthodox recipe a shot have remarked that it has the texture of corn on the cob, with flavours of artichoke and eggplant combined.

Other iterations of this dish include grilling it with the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, before topping it with fresh basil, and actual sun-dried tomatoes. Some have also found that grilled sunflower is especially delectable when drenched in garlic butter and parmesan.

a garnished sunflower head
a garnished sunflower head

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Still unconvinced, or are you secretly googling the recipe for it to give it a shot for yourself? Either way, you’ve gotta admit it—TikTok has truly revolutionised the dining experiences of people all over the world.

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