Chive talk

th-2The growing season in the Berkshires is at least two weeks behind this year. It wasn’t until late April that I finally glimpsed one of the first signs of spring in our fenced-in vegetable garden: chive shoots — fine as cat whiskers — poking up through the snow-flattened mound of last year’s patch. This week I noticed that the chives had started to thicken, lengthen, and spread. Like telemarketers, chives are invasive and indefatigable. They jump across the raised beds to wriggle in among the newly planted peas or slide under the bricks in the narrow garden pathways.

th-3By June this smallest member of the onion family will be in flower — just as their grown-up relations, the ornamental Globemaster Alliums, will be nodding their three-inch purple scepters above the bearded irises and hosta in the border garden. Chives are not only decorative — with tightly packed lavender flower-heads about the size of jaw-breakers — but their smell also helps ward off pests and insects in the garden.


Chives reek of new life. Less tends to be more with them, but a chiffonade of these freshly cut herbs adds a burst of energy and flavor to any sort of salad. Last night, I snipped a handful of them to use in the fast and easy recipe below from Food & Wine.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this subtle combination of tastes and textures. Or try one of these other delicious chive dishes from my (slowly growing) recipe section:

Roast Salmon with Whole Grain Mustard and Chive Crust

1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives
2 8-ounce skin-on wild salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, olive oil, and chives.

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and place them skin side down on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture over the tops of the fillets. Roast the fish for 6 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the salmon 6 inches from the heat for about 4 minutes, until the mustard crust is browned and the salmon is almost cooked through. Using a spatula, carefully slide the salmon fillets off their skins and transfer to plates.

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4 Responses to Chive talk

  1. Annette Shear says:

    …when I work in Central Park, my gardener who gives me my instructions for the day,
    tells me to weed out the wild strawberries and violets (which are blooming right now)
    because they are invasive and I always tell him I can’t because they are so pretty …but, he says back “they are invasive and they have to go” day his supervisor came ’round to check on us and my gardener told him that “Annette won’t pull the violets and strawberries because she thinks they are too pretty, even tho’ I tell her they are invasive” – I decided George’s instructions took precedence over my aesthetic feelings so, I now pull both species – but I’m not a happy gardener, in this instance!

    • Liza says:

      I love the image of you taking an heroic stand for the wild strawberries and violets, Annette. In the Berkshires the wild violets, especially, run rampant and would take over the garden beds if I let them (good thing I don’t have to fight you, too!) One of the problems with invasive species, of course, is that they take over the territory of native plants which are part of the larger ecosystem — birds, frogs, insects, etc. I just read recently, though, that birds are already beginning to adapt and are learning to eat invasive plants. I guess it’s a little like learning to eat arugula after growing up on iceberg lettuce.

  2. Nicie says:

    Dear Liza,

    Thank you for your essay and for the recipe, which looks wonderful.
    I also like to make frittatas with chive and then garnish with chive blossoms.

    Happy Spring,


    • Liza says:

      Sounds delicious, Nicie, and pretty! I know you can also freeze-dry chive blossoms which I’d like to try sometime.

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