December 22, 2014

The charm of chives

Adding zest to many dishes

by Robin Glowa

Before the swell of summer is in full force, bringing a riot of color and texture to vegetable and flower gardens, there is the cool, calm charm of the herb garden. Tender chive shoots thrust upward, arcing out to form a bright green fountain, while their slightly broader, sturdier cousin, garlic chives, grow into an abundant clump.

Chives, a member of the allium family, which includes leeks, garlic and onions, bring a snappy little spark of slight oniony flavor to so many dishes. They’re a natural complement to potatoes; try scattering a handful of snipped chives across steamed or boiled potatoes, potato salad or potato soup. Try mixing a bit of both regular and garlic chives for more intensity.

Chives add a light liveliness to deviled or scrambled eggs, omelets, tossed salads, and pasta,  while marrying well with asparagus, peas, corn and tomatoes. Chives will elevate a homemade dip to spectacular status. In addition to providing pure tastiness, chives are ever so healthy.

Rich in vitamins A, B6, and K, chives are also filled with folic acid, fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, calcium, selenium, copper, zinc and iron. All this nutrition, with no fat or sodium! Chives have anti-cancer, anti-clotting, antibacterial, antiviral and decongest properties. The antibacterial capability of chives is apparently enough to kill at least 30 strains of salmonella. Absolutely wonderful for digestion, chives rid the body of bacteria, fungi and yeast in the intestinal tract so the digestive system can function at a high level.

Both garlic and regular chives are easy to grow, whether in a sunny outdoor spot or kitchen windowsill. As they mature, they form lovely purple or white flowers which are edible, as well as being a dainty, pretty garnish. Trim the chives down after they flower, to a height of about 2 inches and they will grow again, providing a steady supply of tastiness.

If purchasing chives at the market, look for bright green bunches. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge, unwashed. When ready to use,  wash under cool running water, shake and pat dry with paper towels. Chop into small pieces with a knife or snip with scissors. Add your chives to cooked dishes during the last 1 to 2 minutes of cooking time, as to not dilute the flavor.

Like all beautiful and flavorful herbs, chives are a delightful ingredient to be used when preparing a delicious life!

 

Charming Chive Dip

Makes 2 cups.

1 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt

1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 tablespoon dropped chives

1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic chives (or minced garlic)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

salt

black pepper

In a medium bowl mix together first 10 ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice if desired.

(Serve with tiny tomatoes, sugar snap peas, celery stalks, carrots and, OK…, potato chips!!)

 

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP is certified in holistic health counseling by the Institute for integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. In addition to writing extensively about healthy food and lifestyle, Robin teaches healthy cooking classes to students of all ages, emphasizing the use of natural, local, and organic ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She also leads cooking workshops and does private parties. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net.