TikTok foodies have found a renewed obsession with a vegan dish that has some bewildered.
Grilled sunflower heads emerged on the video app last summer, and many people were divided over the unusual dish. The trend has recently reemerged on TikTok, as farmers and chefs attempt their own take on the recipe.
Brian Brigantti, who runs Redleaf Ranch in Tennessee, recently demonstrated how he prepares the delicacy. "For a grilled sunflower head, you want to use a head that isn't fully developed," he explains in the video. "So, the seeds are still going to be on the lighter side and much softer.
After removing all the petals, Brigantti gives the sunflower head a good wash, before rubbing it with oils and spices (salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and onion powder). He then places the head face-down on the grill, letting it cook for about five minutes with the lid on the grill. Brigantti tops it off with green onions and Tajín seasoning, before digging in.
"Oh yeah, I see why it's a thing," Brigantti raves after trying his take on the food trend. "So good! Go try yourself some grilled sunflower."
While the food trend took off last summer on TikTok, Delish traces it back to at least 2018, when it first appeared as a specialty on the menu at the restaurant Apteka in Pittsburgh. The dish even earned praise from Andrew Zimmern, who wrote that it's "insanely good" in an Instagram caption.
"I grew up in Poland," Chef Tomasz Skowronski told Delish. "In the countryside, it's really common to see people eating whole heads of sunflower that are fully mature. Kids will be sitting on a fence picking and eating it, or you'll have guys drinking a beer and eating it."
But it wasn't until the summer of 2020 when grilled sunflower heads took off as a social media sensation. Chef Jenna Asher of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds happened upon her interpretation of the recipe while experimenting with Indigenous foods.
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"I had been looking into some different things that the Indigenous people in this area had used for food and was just trying to think outside the box," Asher said to Delish. "I was looking at a sunflower wondering how earlier people might've prepared it."
Although she couldn't find any history of Indigenous people eating sunflower heads in this manner, Asher went with it. She posted a video of the recipe to Facebook, and it subsequently took off on TikTok, where foodies are still attempting the snack a year later.