Chives are a most agreeable herb to grow. This Chive Lemon Vinaigrette is only one reason you should grow them, and it’s a very compelling reason indeed. Plant chives once – enjoy years of delicious flavor, and a pretty plant in the bargain. My current plants vary in age, but the oldest one is around 4 or 5 years old, a fact of which I am certain, since that is the age of the herb bed where they now reside. I plant another couple pretty much every year, not because the older plants aren’t producing any longer, but because I like how they look.
I also think they discourage some of the pests that might think about snacking on some of my more vulnerable herbs in that bed – companion planting is a very effective way to keep nasty little critters out of the garden. In my previous garden I had plants probably 8 or 9 years old and still growing strong – stronger all the time in fact. You can start chives from seed, though it can be a tedious job – they take a long time to germinate, come up rather sparsely and just kind of sit there looking spindly for a long time. I have tried to start new plants the last couple years, and was unsuccessful both times. I’m trying to get some going in the greenhouse over the summer where I’m hoping to have better luck. And though I do like to start my own plants from seed for a variety of reasons, I see nothing wrong with picking up a pot of nicely growing chives from a local place, or getting a kind friend to scoop you out a little patch from their own plants. They divide easily and actually seem to benefit from it, so that is the best route in my opinion.
Even if you don’t have an herb or vegetable garden, a little patch of chives is an easy and attractive addition to an existing flower or perennial bed – they even make a nice bunch of pretty purple or white flowers early in the summer. And the more you cut them to use, the better they will grow. Think of them as a gateway plant to growing your own food, if you are looking to get your feet wet in a small way. You can just snip them over nearly about anything you are eating: salads, omelets, stir fry, grilled chicken, potatoes. The mild flavor goes really well with nearly everything.
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- ½ - 1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste [I just run it through the same zester I used for the lemon]
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5-6 grinds fresh black pepper
- About ⅓ cup olive oil [2 to 1 ratio with the lemon juice]
- 3 tablespoons freshly snipped chives
- Use a bowl with high sides to make the whisking easier. You might want to anchor it with a dish towel so it doesn't slide around.
- To the bowl, add the lemon zest [zest the lemon before juicing it], lemon juice, garlic,honey, mustard, salt and pepper.
- Whisk until the salt is dissolved and the honey is completely incorporated.
- Stream in the oil very slowly, whisking all the while, until you get a nice emulsion.
- To develop the fullest flavor, let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.
- Just before serving, stir in the chives, as they will darken as they sit in the vinaigrette.
- Serve over salad, lightly steamed or grilled vegetables, or anything you like.
As is the case with most vinaigrette, you will be able to find a lot of different ways to use this. It is wonderful on a simple salad, like the one above, made from butter lettuce, avocados and a few other additions, as well as a great fast marinade for grilled chicken breasts, and was so good on fresh asparagus, that we made a meal of that alone.So, go plant a little chive patch if you don’t have one already, and in the meantime, check out your local Farmer’s Market or farm stand – chives are one of early summer’s greatest gifts!