Braised Sunflowers w/ Herbed Ricotta

Serves 4 as a light appetizer


For The Sunflowers

  • 4 large sunflowers, stems removed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (or 4 dried bay leaves)
  • basil sprigs, leaves removed & chopped
  • 2 parsley sprigs leaves removed & chopped
  • 2 mint sprigs, leaves removed & chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 5 thyme sprigs leaves removed & chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground white pepper


  • 1 cup high quality ricotta
  • 1 heaping tbsp of the chopped herb leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs


  • braising liquid left from cooking the sunflowers (should be about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp of the chopped herb leaves
  • ½ cup gold raisins
  • ¼ cup rinsed capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • freshly ground white pepper


Prepare Sunflowers

  1. Preheat oven to 450º
  2. Remove the yellow petals from the sunflowers, and reserve for garnish
  3. Using a sharp paring knife, trim off the outer dark green areas, and the inner small yellow face of the sunflowers until they are trimmed down to the light green and white center underneath. (They will look like artichoke bottoms, but with compact tiny tubes that look like a corn cob)
  4. Place the cleaned sunflowers into a saucepan, face-down, and add all of the other ingredients (except for the chopped herbs). Season liberally with salt and pepper, and then place a lid on the saucepan, and let braise over a low-medium heat for about 45 minutes, or until very tender and lightly browned
  5. Remove from the pan and let cool

Prepare Filling & Bake Sunflowers

  1. Place sunflowers on a baking sheet. Mix all of the filling ingredients together, and put a large dollop onto each braised sunflower, enough to cover
  2. Sprinkle a liberal amount of breadcrumbs onto each stuffed sunflower, and bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 7-10 minutes

Prepare Vinaigrette

  1. Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients together, and let sit for at least 30 minutes before using

Plate & Serve

  1. Place the sunflowers onto plates, drizzle the sauce around, and garnish with the petals and a sprinkling of the remaining chopped herbs