Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. This post was brought to you by our friends at Evolution Fresh, who like fresh, flavorful ingredients as much as we do.
Today: We're a little herb-obsessed around here, and our latest paramour is the garlicky cousin of common chives.
If you’re in need of inspiration in the kitchen, you might want to choose a member of the allium family: Green garlic modeled for the cover of this lovely book and onions have inspired odes. And if you choose garlic chives as your produce muse, well, you’d be in good company -- they've sat for Van Gogh. At first glance they look similar to common chives, but take a closer look, and you’ll see that garlic chives have wider flat leaves (1, below) -- like extremely overgrown grass.
It's not just the leaves you can eat, though -- the flower stems, buds, and pretty white blossoms are all edible too. (Sometimes different varieties are grown for their leaves and others for their flower stems, but both can be harvested from the same plant.) Look for garlic chives at your farmers market, a well-stocked grocery store, or an Asian market. You might also come across a yellow version, which gets its pale color from etoliation, a second round of growth in the dark.
Garlic chives can be chopped and used as a garnish just like regular chives are; try using them in compound butter or sprinkling on soup as Andrea Nguyen does. They can also be treated more like a vegetable -- try stir-frying garlic chives or stuffing them into dumplings. In Oriental Vegetables, Joy Larkcom suggests using garlic chives for tempura: Tie them into bundles, dip them in batter, and deep fry. Garlic chives also pair well with eggs; try using them in a no-flour-needed egg noodle.
However you decide to cook with them, do so quickly. Keep your garlic chives in the refrigerator stored in a plastic bag for a few days (the yellow blanched variety should be used within a day or so), and heed Larkcom's caution: The longer they're stored, the more their flavor will intensify.
Tell us: How do you like to use garlic chives?
Photos by Mark Weinberg
This post was brought to you by Evolution Fresh. Check out their new pairing guide to find out which foods go best with their juices.