Chives are one of the most versatile herbs in the kitchen. Not only are they robust in flavor, but they are also available year-round and can be used in a variety of dishes. But what exactly is a chive, and how should you use it in your cooking? Let's dive into chives and all the ways you can use them in your favorite dishes.
A chive is a small, hollow, hollow-leafed herb from the family Alliaceae, which also includes its close relative onions. Chives are famous for their mild onion flavor. Unlike onions, chives are far less pungent, with a more subtle flavor that is slightly sweet and similar to grass. Chives come in a variety of sizes, but the most common ones grow between four and six inches in length. They are easily identifiable by their hollow cylindrical stems, linear leaves, and purple-tinged spherical to star-shaped flowers.
When it comes to preparing and cooking with chives, tradition dictates that the flowers are left on throughout the entire process. This is because the delicate edible flowers contribute a mild, oniony flavor without added spiciness of many other herbs. In addition to their flavor, the stalks can also be used for a variety of culinary purposes.
When it comes to baking, chives are a fantastic addition to breads, muffins, and biscuits. They can also add extra flavor to sauces and can be sprinkled on top of salads or roasted vegetables. Chives can also be sautéed and added to omelets, quiches, or frittatas, as well as served with mashed or roasted potatoes. In terms of seasonings, chives are a great addition to salads and can also be used in vinaigrettes, dressings, and marinades.
In addition to the leaves and flowers, you can use the stems as garlic scapes or substitute them in place of green onion or garlic when making a dish like pesto or chimichurri. For the best flavor, use chives when they are fresh and not wilted, as wilted chives have a more intense flavor. When harvested in season, chives will have a flavorful tenderness.
Before adding fresh chives to a dish, chop them finely using a sharp chef’s knife for a fair blend of the mild oniony flavor. To intensify the flavors further, fry or sauté chives to bring out an more intense oniony flavor. This can especially be beneficial for dishes such as fish, poultry, and eggs.
To store chives, refrigerate them in an airtight container in temperatures around 40°F and they should last up to two weeks. In order to give your chives an even longer shelf life, wrap them in a slightly damp paper towel and place them in a zipper lock bag in the refrigerator. You can also freeze chives, although this will lessen the flavor and texture. To freeze chives, wash them and blot them dry before wrapping in a plastic bag and sealing tightly.
Whether you're looking to add depth to a dish or mild onion flavor to a salad, chives are a great way to achieve that goal. With their bold flavor and subtle texture, chives can elevate simple dishes and make complex recipes a flavorful success. From muffins to sauces, salads to dressings, and potatoes to pestos, chives belong in your kitchen.