“ I love Spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”—Ruth Stout
Before the swell of summer is in full force, bringing a riot of color and texture to vegetable and flower gardens, there is the cool, calm, charm of the spring herb garden. The first plants to appear are the tender chive shoots. Thrusting upward, these prolific producers arc outward, forming bright green fountains, while their slightly broader, sturdier cousin, the garlic chive, form a more abundant clump.
Chives are a member of the allium family, which include leeks, garlic, shallots and onions. Their slender stalks may seem delicate, but their flavor is quite pronounced, bring a snappy little spark to so many dishes. A natural complement to potatoes, try scattering a handful of snipped chives across steamed or boiled potatoes, potato salad or potato soup. Try mixing a bit of both regular and garlic chives for more intensity.
Chives add a light liveliness to deviled or scrambled eggs, omelets, tossed salads, and pasta salads,while marrying well with asparagus, peas, corn and tomatoes. Chives will elevate a homemade dip to spectacular status and add extra zest to salad dressings. In addition to providing pure tastiness, chives are ever so healthy.
Rich in vitamins A, B6, and K, chives are also filled with folic acid, fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, selenium, copper, zinc and iron. All this nutrition, with no fat or sodium! Chives have anti-cancer, anti-clotting, antibacterial, antiviral and decongestant properties. The antibacterial capability of chives is apparently enough to kill at least 30 strains of salmonella. Absolutely wonderful for digestion, chives rid the body of bacteria, fungi and yeast in the intestinal tract so the digestive system can highly function.
Both garlic and regular chives are so easy to grow, whether in a sunny outdoor spot or on a kitchen windowsill. As they mature, they form lovely purple or white flowers which are edible, as well as being a dainty, pretty garnish. Trim the chives down after they flower, to a height of about 2 inches and they will rejuvenate, providing a steady supply of their distinctive oniony flavor throughout the entire growing season.
If purchasing chives at the market, look for bright green bunches. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge, unwashed. When ready to use, wash under cool running water, shake and pat dry with paper towels. Chop into small pieces with a knife or snip with scissors. Add your chives to cooked dishes during the last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking time, as to not dilute the flavor.
Like all beautiful and flavorful herbs, chives are a delightful ingredient to be used when preparing a delicious life!
Charming Chive Dip
Makes 2 cups
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dropped chives
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic chives (or minced garlic)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
In a medium bowl mix together first 10 ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if desired.
(Serve with tiny tomatoes, sugar snap peas, celery stalks, carrots, and OK — potato chips!!)
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, is a passionate food professional who is certified in holistic health counseling by the Institute for integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. In addition to writing extensively about healthy food and lifestyle, Robin teaches healthy cooking classes to students of all ages, emphasizing the use of natural, local, and organic ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She also leads cooking workshops and does private parties. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net