One of the first green plants that I see in the garden each spring is my little clump of chives. After a winter of heavy comfort foods, their delicate onion flavor goes a long way to adding freshness to many dishes.

Chives are cold hardy, surviving very well on the south side of my house. They prefer full sun and fertile, well draining soil. Clumps should be divided after about 3 years. When harvesting chives, cut them to about 2" from the bottom of the plant. Chives lose some of their flavor when dried. The best way to store them is to rinse, pat dry, and freeze in an air-tight bag.

Here are several ways to use chives in your kitchen:

  • Add color and subtle flavor to your mashed potatoes by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped chives.
  • Use them along with sour cream to top a baked potato.
  • Make a vinaigrette with 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon chopped chives, salt and pepper. Shake or whisk to combine. Use on a salad of spring greens or drizzle over steamed or chilled asparagus.
  • The next time that you make buttermilk biscuits, add 1 teaspoon of chopped chives to the batter.
  • If winter seems to be making a come back, stir three teaspoons of chopped chives into a tureen of potato leek soup before serving.
  • And my Sunday morning favorite: a cream cheese and chive omelette!

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