Check Out Chives

April 5, 2016

I know what you’re thinking.  She’s become desperate…she has no idea what to write about anymore, so she is writing about garnishes.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  Chives are so much more than the graceful slivers dressing your dinner plate.

An aromatic plant native to Asia, the chive belongs to the same family as garlic, onions and leeks, the allium family.  The smallest member of the onion family, this gorgeous sliver is no shrinking violet. 

It was not until the Middle Ages that chives were widely cultivated and appreciated for their peppery taste.  Easy to cultivate, as well as abundantly wild, chives have long, green filiform leaves that are about 6 inches long.  Thin, hollow and grass-like, these stems grow from tiny white bulbs found in clumps just above the surface of the soil.  Pink, white and purple blossoms bloom at the tip of unharvested stems.  And the coolest thing?  If you just trim chives at ground level and don’t rip them out of the soil, they will continue to bloom over and over. 

Chives are often included in the family of “fines herbes,” delicate herbs used to flavor and garnish a variety of dishes.  From vinaigrettes to salad dressings; pasta and stir fry dishes, chives are best when added at the end of cooking so as not to compromise their delicate taste. 

When buying chives, choose only those that are evenly green, fresh stems that show no sign of yellowing, excessive softness or dried out tips.

And while they make a lovely, graceful, elegant garnish, chives are reputed to aid in lowering blood pressure, are low in calories and are decent sources of Vitamin A and K, as well as folic acid, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Chives are more than just a pretty face.