As I anxiously wait and watch for the snow to recede on my gardens, there are brave, round spears of hollow, onion-flavored “grass” poking through the soil. Clumps of chives, a familiar herbal seasoning, are a sure indication that the ground has warmed. Soon, the edges of my herb garden will be decorated with clusters of chives blossoming with bright purple and pink bonbons.
Chives are a familiar seasoning to most of us, their mild, onion flavor adds a tasty dimension to salads, dressings and marinades, even eggs. Cut them with shears down to the base of the plant, and store chives in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They’re delicious when added to cooked dishes like soups, but be sure to add them toward the end of the cooking time to retain their flavor. Nutritionally speaking, chives are a good source of Vitamin A, and a fair source of potassium and calcium.
My palate is eager for something green, and chives are a welcome addition in the kitchen. The herbaceous perennial is a simple plant to grow. Bees and native pollinators love to visit chives, causing them to set seed plentifully. In most gardens, the herb will self-sow.
The roundish purple heads of bloom consist of many individual florets. Single florets of chives are both pretty and delicious when scattered in a green salad. The more mature heads make beautiful Chive vinegar. Place mature heads of chives which have not faded in color in a glass bottle or jar. Then completely cover the blossoms with white vinegar, cap, and set on a windowsill. In a week or two, the vinegar will have a nice rosy glow. Strain it off and enjoy.
Spring is a good time to prepare a jar of Lemon Chive Vinaigrette. A tasty salad dressing, this mixture is handy in the kitchen. Halibut steaks, chicken breast, even asparagus marinated in this bright tasting sauce will be delicious hot off the grill.
Carrot Salad with Lemon Chive Vinaigrette is a family favorite. The zesty, citrus flavor is the perfect foil for carrots, especially those stored in the root cellar. The dried cranberries add a perfect sweet punch of flavor. Celebrate spring with the return of chives.
CARROT & CRANBERRY SALAD WITH LEMON CHIVE VINAIGRETTE
LEMON CHIVE VINAIGRETTE:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon or grainy mustard
- ½ cup finely chopped chives (or other fresh herbs)
- 3 tablespoons white balsamic or white wine vinegar
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
CARROT & CRANBERRY SALAD
- 1 pound carrots peeled and shredded, about 4 cups total
- ½ cup dried cranberries plumped in hot water if needed
- ½ cup Lemon Chive Vinaigrette
- Fresh greens or sprouts for serving - optional
- Fresh flowers for garnish (marigolds, nasturtiums) - optional
CARROT & CRANBERRY SALAD WITH LEMON CHIVE VINAIGRETTE:
- Gather all of your ingredients.
TO PREPARE THE LEMON CHIVE VINAIGRETTE:
- Squeeze the lemon and finely chop the fresh herbs.
- Add the olive oil, mustard and chopped chives to a stainless steel bowl and vigorously whisk together.
- Add the lemon juice and vinegar and whisk until emulsified. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
- Store Lemon Chive Vinaigrette in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Makes about 1 cup dressing.
TO PREPARE THE SALAD:
- Peel the carrots. Using a food processor or grater, shred the carrots. You should have about 4 cups shredded carrots. Add to a large bowl.
- If needed, pour some hot water over the dried cranberries to plump them. Drain the water and add the cranberries to the carrots.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and stir well. For best flavor, refrigerate salad for 2 hours or more for the flavors to marry.
- Allow salad to come to room temperature. Serve on a bed of fresh greens or sprouts and garnish with flower petals.