Favorite Summer Ingredient: Chives

published Jun 12, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

We recently posted about chive blossoms, but I would like to put in a good word for chives themselves. This green, mildly onion-like herb is almost always in my kitchen and whenever I have a bit of dirt nearby, it’s one of the first herbs I plant. Milder than green onions, chives add a hint of onion flavor without being overpowering. They make a perfect summer herb, as they’re best raw or only slightly cooked, but of course they make a fine garnish for winter dishes as well.

I love chives for their flavor foremost. There are many dishes that benefit from just a hint of chive’s onion-like flavor, but egg dishes such as egg salad or omelets are especially suited. Chives also do wonderfully in potato salad and baked potatoes, savory biscuits and scones, and green salads. In general, chives don’t hold up very well in long, slow cooking such as braises or stews, but they make great finishing herbs. They look and taste lovely scattered as a garnish over grain and pasta salads, cooked meats, and soups.

Chives are a good stand-in for green onions and find their way into many Asian dishes as well. Garlic chives or Nira are a slightly stronger and more garlic-y tasting cousin to chives and are also a poplar Asian green. Also popular with many chefs is chive oil, in which chives are blanched, cooled, whizzed in a food processor with olive oil and then strained. The resulting bright green oil oil is often drizzled over soups or used as a finishing oil for meats.

Speaking of looks, chives also make an attractive, versatile garnish. Finely minced or cut into 1/2″ lengths, they add a crisp, graphic scattering of green to your dishes. Longer pieces add a playful element when tied up into little bows or, famously, used instead of string for Beggar’s Purses.

Chives cut easier when gathered together into a small bundle and of course, the sharper the knife, the better. A dull knife will only crush and bruise the stalks. Sometimes, snipping chives directly over your dish with a scissors in the best way to go.

What is your favorite use for chives?

(Image: Dana Velden)