You thought I was going to say “Chia”, didn’t you?
The Harbinger of Spring in My Flyover Garden
Okay, maybe “garden” is a little euphemistic. Yes, I have a couple of 3×3 foot raised beds, but I also have a bit of a black thumb. Which is one of the reasons I so adore chives—they give so much love in return for so little care. In fact, they seem to flourish under my gardening system (aka “benign neglect”). Chives are one of the earliest plants ready for harvest in the cool Midwest, ready for salads and baked potatoes while we Flyoverians are still getting good use out of our fashionable boots and stylish coats. Yes, like those of us in the Flyover States, chives are frost-tolerant.
What the Flock are Chives, Anyway?
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are part of the onion family, a not-so-motley crew that includes varieties of scallions (also known as green onions), garlic, leeks, shallots, and ramps, as well as the onions we are so family-ar with (Family? Familiar? Get it? No shortage of puns on this blog, though that wasn’t one of my better ones.) Anyway, chives deliver a mild hit of onion-ness1, a subtle hint of flavor. Culinarily, chives are often found in salads (and dressings), soups (typically added at the end as a garnish), and in dips and spreads. Additionally, they pair well with eggs and potatoes (think of the classic sour cream-and-chive topped baked potato!)
The smell (and therefore the taste, since these two senses are related) of chives (and other alliums) stems from the presence of volatile oils that contain some sulfur. Their mildness, though, is testament to the smaller amount of sulfur present in chives compared to onions.
And They Look So Pretty!
Have you ever seen chives that have flowered? They are lovely, with a feathery, purple blossoms that can be used culinarily. Yes, chive blossoms are edible and make a pretty interesting garnish. Float some on top of soup, add some to a salad, or incorporate a few into a sandwich. And when you’ve eaten your fill, gather a bouquet of them and place them in a vase!
Chive recipe coming Thursday!
1Or garlic-ness, if you use or grow garlic chives