Spring Chives, Spreading Like Green Wildfire
If you garden, you know that there are certain plants that will happily take over every inch of your garden. Mint and oregano come to mind, both of which seem to have the kind of aggression that would make them bad neighbors, if they were people-sprawling their stuff across those property lines no matter how many times you push it back. But neither can match the kind of assault that a chive plant can make on your garden. Yes, as well as sending shoots out underground to tenaciously advance, they also have the self-defense mechanism of an oniony smell, and release tear gas that makes your eyes well up even as you dig the offending stalks from the basil bed.
You would think that I would be in the process of eradicating the fertile chives from my garden, but I am not. I’ve adopted a delicious containment policy. I figure that if something tasty and easy to use really wants to be there that badly, I had better come up with some fun ways to use it.
I should clarify that my particular chive plant is an Asian variety of Garlic Chives. With a hint of garlic flavor in its wild, oniony punch, it grows long, flat stems instead of the thin round ones of regular chives. Because of that it can hold up to a little more cooking. It’s also got the bonus of being the star of lots of great Chinese recipes, like garlic chive dumplings, and stir fries.
link to a tofu potsticker recipe:
Because of their dual attributes of oniony and garlicky flavors, I can use them in place of scallions, chives, and garlic in recipes. They have a particular affinity for tofu, as the above potsticker recipe would attest. If you are not up for forming dumplings, try a tofu scramble with chives, simply seasoned with soy sauce and ginger, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Chives can take the place of scallions in stir fries and soups, and you can use large quantities of them in cooked dishes, since heat subdues their oniony heat a bit. If you are into eggs, chives are a classic addition to scrambled or baked egg dishes. If you eat dairy, cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt, or creamy goat cheese all make good bases for a chivey taste experience.
Their flavor alone is good reason to use them up, but don’t forget how nutritious they are. They are high in vitamin C and carotene, and are a good source of calcium. They also contain Vitamin B1 and B2. In Traditional Chinese medicine, garlic chives are considered to be a yang or warming food. And those sulphur compounds that sting your eyes are also antibacterial and antiseptic, and boost your immunity.
Of course, later in the year, my chives will offer up gorgeous, edible purple flowers. That will signal that the stems are too tough to eat raw, and I will snip them for use in salads, stir-fries, and as edible garnishes.
And to think-I once contemplated digging them up for good. My chives are a lesson in making the best of something that is pushy. I’m learning to use it to my advantage, do a little garden ju-jitsu, rather than wage war with it.
Garden lessons are the tastiest kind.
Garlic Chive Vichyssoise
Chill this for a summer soother, or serve warm. If you only have regular chives, throw in a chopped clove of garlic with the saute.
4 medium yukon gold potatoes, 1 1/4 lb, chopped
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped garlic chives, divided
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious coconut creamer)
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a 4 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil. Saute half of the garlic chives until soft and dark green, then add the potatoes and stir. Add the water, bring to a boil, and cover tightly. Cook for ten minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the water is almost gone. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and add the “milk” and puree. Add salt and the remaining chives and process until smooth.
Serve warm or chill-you may need to stir in more milk after chilling.
This recipe looks like a delicious way to use those blossoms later on!