Guide To Herbs Day 7: Chives

Welcome to week two of the Food Republic Guide To Herbs. We kicked things off last week with a prelude, visited the not-only-a-garnish parsley, loved us some basil, looked at rosemary, discussed why dill is more than a pickle, checked out cilantro, and discovered what is up with herbes de Provence. Today we are looking at chives.

Chives resemble hollow blades of grass and are the smallest member of the onion family. They have a distinctive but mild oniony, garlicky flavor.

Chives have a natural affinity with all things creamy. Whether you throw a tablespoon of chopped chives in a mixer with a stick of soft butter or you sprinkle some chives over your bagel and cream cheese, chives add a pleasant herbal freshness that counterbalances creaminess. Toss a few tablespoons of chopped chives over buttery mashed potatoes, on an omelet or mix into scrambled eggs.

Lately, we've seen chives showing up more and more as an accent flavor in salads.

Chives are the easiest herbs to work with. They don't even require a knife. Take a pair of (clean, preferably kitchen) scissors and snip, snip, snip. Friends drop by unexpectedly? Roll a log of goat cheese in a tablespoon of chopped chives for a quick, easy, and impressive hors d'oeuvre.

Want to push your chives further? Put soft butter and chives in a mixing bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, a small pinch of salt, a couple grinds of pepper and, if you're into it, a pinch and half of garlic powder. After it's mixed, roll your butter creation into a log and wrap in cellophane. The next time you grill a steak, cut off a 1/4-inch slice and place it over the steak when warm. The chive-butter sauce is also great on fish, green beans, and potatoes.

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