One of my most favorite spring herbs is chives. An herbaceous perennial, the cheerful, slender green and hollow shoots of “grass” start to appear once the soil in the ground has warmed. Soon, the edges of my herb garden are decorated with clumps 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, 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.
The recipe for Lemon Chive Vinaigrette is classically simple and easy to prepare. I first tasted it on a lobster and white bean salad. The combination of zesty citrus with mild onion complimented the lobster perfectly, and made the beans sing. For a simple green salad after a rich meal, toss Lemon Chive Vinaigrette with leaves of Bibb or Butter lettuce.
Lemon Chive Vinaigrette is irresistible on a shredded carrot salad. Add about ¼ cup of dressing to five cups of shredded carrots. If desired, add raisins or dried cranberries, toss to coat thoroughly, and refrigerate for at least two hours. This addictive salad packs well in the lunch box or as part of a picnic.
A jar of Lemon Chive Vinaigrette in the refrigerator is also handy as a marinade. Halibut steaks, chicken breast, even asparagus marinated in this bright tasting sauce will be delicious hot off the grill. When your chive plants start to blossom, the flowers can be added to your salads, or used to garnish plates. Food historians date the usage of chives back thousands of years. Here in Maine, chives welcome the start of delicious, summer eating.
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
- 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.