My husband texted me recently to say he was going to the greenhouse to organize the summer’s planting, and what herbs did I want him to get … besides chives. My answer? More chives.
Chives are my desert island, cannot-live-without, favorite bit of greenery. Sure, I love me some parsley, and basil will never hurt my feelings. I’m a fan of tarragon, when used judiciously, and chervil, which is as much fun to say as it is to eat, and dill is always welcome in my home. Mint is a close second, good for tea and cookery alike. But at the end of the day? Chives are my ride or die.
Easy never tasted so awesome.
Since I have a black thumb, and my husband is in charge of the window boxes, he knows I need a fourth of the annual planting to be chives. I use them in everything, all day long. A little sprinkle on my morning eggs or cottage cheese makes breakfast better. Any salad or soup finds a welcome garnish. Pasta, potatoes, rice—if it’s carby, it loves chives. Chive oil drizzled on your fish or veggies, chive butter on your steaks and chops, chive chimichurri on your chicken (say that ten times fast).
But this story is not about chives, per se. This is about the bonuses on top of them: chive blossoms.
These little lavender pompoms are one of the best things about having a lot of chives around. I cannot get enough of them. They have a flavor that is even milder than the chives themselves, so they make an excellent garnish for more delicate fare. The infused vinegar you can make with them is as pretty as it is delicious.
So here are some of my favorite things to do with chive blossoms when I have them:
If you are making the aforementioned chive blossom vinegar, save the blossoms! They have a wonderful pickled onion flavor and are the best possible garnish for a cold martini. They bloom prettily in the bottom of your glass and are a lovely little snack at the end. I also chop them up and add them to vinaigrettes (made with the vinegar, naturally), where they provide a bit of caper-like pop.
Serving crudités this summer? Try adding some chive blossoms, plucked from the flower base into individual little blooms, to your favorite aioli or dip, for an elegant and delicious touch.
Chive Blossom Butter
Chive blossom butter is as easy as softened butter with enough chive blossoms, again plucked from the main flower base, to make the butter a blushing pale pink. Think about 2 tablespoons of blossoms per stick of butter, or more if you have them. I store this butter in a log in the freezer and whack off a tablespoon or two to garnish fish or vegetables or toss with pasta.
I’m a fan of a snack cracker, especially a fast one. Take equal parts softened fresh goat cheese and all-purpose flour, add a bunch of the plucked chive blossoms, and mash it into a dough. Roll into a log and chill for at least an hour. Slice into discs and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Let cool on the pans on a rack, and you will have the most delicious onion-y cheese shortbread cracker.
Tempura Chive Blossoms
Last but not least, my all-time favorite: tempura chive blossoms. I love these as an unexpected snack with a glass of rosé—they surprise everyone. And they are really easy to make. Wash and pat dry the blossoms, leaving them on their stems. Heat a couple of cups of peanut oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Make a tempura batter by mixing one egg with one cup of super cold water. Add one cup of all-purpose flour and blend really well. Keep it cold while the oil is heating, you want it at around 350. One or two at a time, depending on how ambidextrous you are, slosh just the blossom into the batter, and tap it on the side of the bowl to remove excess, then holding the stem, lower the bloom into the hot oil which will make it pop open into a great orb shape. Move the blossom gently around in the oil for about one minute, just to get it crispy. It won’t color very much. Lay it down on a paper-towel-lined pan and continue until all of your blossoms are done. You can hold in a 200-degree oven for 30 minutes before serving. I cut the stems down and arrange in a little vase, to eat just pop the fried blossom off the stem with your teeth. They taste like onion rings but fluffy and delicate. They also make a great garnish for a summer salad.
If this isn’t enough to make you want to grow your own chives, hopefully your local farmers' market will have some for you to play with.
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