Chives with their beautiful purple buds are one of the prettiest things I’ve stumbled across at the farmers’ market lately. And guess what? The entire plant is edible, even when in full bloom with its pale purple flowers!
You’re probably familiar with chives and their delicate just-the-right-amount-of onion-without-being-overpowering flavor. But what about their pretty little buds or blossoms? Just like the stem, both the purple buds and the light purple flowers are flavorful and aromatic with a mild, light onion flavor. They are perfect for adding a decorative touch to any savory dish, tossed in a salad, or for jazzing things up with infused vinegar. Here’s a chive blossom vinegar recipe straight from the Day Ferry Organics farmers chronicles. So next time you’re thinking of abandoning these purple beauties to the compost, think again. You can even take advantage of the lovely color and add the buds or flowers to a simple (and pretty) cheese spread or toss with a bowl of mixed salad greens.
Look for them at your farmers’ market in the spring and summer. Or simply, grow your own chives in an herb garden or kitchen window — and for keeping them fresh, refrigerate them in a plastic bag for up to a week.
What about the stems? With their fresh fragrance and delicate onion flavor, the stems themselves are infinitely useful in cooking. And because they’re mild, you can also use them generously and enjoy the bonus of their invigorating bright green color. Here’s some ways to put them to use:
- As a garnish for soups and salads
- As herb butter for using on fish, vegetables, grilled corn on the cob, baked potatoes, etc.
- To enhance the flavor of sauces and salad dressings
- Add color to potato salads
- For seasoning fish
- Sprinkled generously over a bagel spread with cream cheese (yum!)
Plus chive vinaigrette couldn’t be simpler to make at home: just whisk together some good-quality olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, some minced garlic clove, and of course a ton of fresh chopped chives.
NOTE: When cooking, be sure to add chives at the end of cooking time to retain their flavor and nutrients.
Here’s a deliciously simple recipe using fresh chives:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Bring butter to room temperature.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, parmesan, chives, salt and pepper with a fork until well combined.
3. Let stand for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can meld, then chill in the refrigerator until firm.
Some chive facts:
- Cousins of onions, leeks, and scallions, chives are the smallest edible onion
- “Chives” is often referred to only in plural form because they grow like a cluster rather than alone
- Although attractive to bees, chives have insect-repelling properties that dispel many insects and garden pests
- Chives were once believed to hold magical powers that protect against evil spirits and diseases
- Colonists in the New World hung chives in bundles in their home as protection
- Romans believed that chives had the power to relieve pain and used it to ease sore throats and sunburns
- Romanian Gypsies used chives as part of their fortune telling rituals
- Chives are one of the richest sources of vitamin K (8% of daily value in just one tablespoon). Vitamin K helps reduce inflammation throughout the body and anchors calcium inside the bones and prevent osteoporosis. It’s also essential for blood clotting.