Cooking With Chives

The blue-jeans herb - they go with anything.

| February/March 1997

  • Chives, welcome in any garden, provide an explosion of fresh spring color and the promise of a summer’s worth of fine onion flavor.

  • A lovely pink corner in the author’s garden showcases chives, rose geranium, and ‘Angel Face’ roses.
  • Garlic chives are a close relative with a different look and a distinct taste.
  • We call these Show-Off Herbal Canapés—fun to make and almost too beautiful to eat.
  • Salmon and Chive Torta is the height of elegant snack food.
  • A chive dressing coats the leaves of hearty greens, slices of ripe pears, and wedges of blue cheese.

Chive Recipes:

Salmon and Chive Torta
Show-Off Herbal Canapés
Hearty Greens with Pears, Blue Cheese and Chive Dressing
Blue Vichyssoise with Chives
Pot Stickers with Garlic Chives  

Talking about chives is like expounding on your favorite blue jeans. They become such a part of your life that you seldom notice them or take time to analyze their virtues. I’ve probably had the same trusty chive plants for twenty years, and most of my family, friends, and landscaping clients now have offspring from them. I pay attention to my chives only occasionally, when I cut them back or dig up a portion to give to a friend or clip a few leaves for something I’m cooking for dinner.

Even in the kitchen, chives seldom get star billing—I make no chive pestos or pizzas, for example—but like my jeans, they go with everything. I pair chives with basil, rosemary, thyme, fennel, dill, tarragon, and a host of other herbs, and they go with so many other foods, too—just about any savory dish I can think of.



The chives I’m referring to are the common, easy-to-grow perennial herb we all know so well, the one whose minced foliage the waiter offers you to top your baked potato—Allium schoenoprasum. The slender, tubular, vivid green rushlike leaves inspired the species name, schoenoprasum, which is derived from Greek roots for “rush” and “leek”. The plants grow in dense clumps that spread quickly, sometimes to a foot across. The leaves emerge in early spring from slender bulbs clustered on a rhizome and grow 12 to 18 inches tall—followed in early summer by globe-shaped lavender or pink flower heads.

Botanists have assigned the genus ­Allium variously to the lily family (Liliaceae), the amaryllis family (Ama­ryllidaceae), and its own family, the ­Alliaceae. The genus also includes onions and garlic.



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