Vail Simply Seasonal: Chives adorn gardens and gourmet fare
Vail, CO Colorado
Technically, it’s spring in Colorado’s Vail Valley. And as the soggy ground peeks out amid melting drifts of snow, we believe it, and start planning our gardens.
Novice or expert, a favorite of Rocky Mountain gardeners is the planting of herbs. Typically, all they need is soil that will drain well and plenty of sun and water. They sprout up quickly, ready to snip and bring in to the kitchen. The fresh pungency breathes new life into your favorite dishes.
Planning an herb garden? Don’t overlook chives. Delicate and pretty, chives grow from bulbs and can be planted in containers or directly into the ground.
The plant grows in slender stalks and blooms into soft, spiky lilac spheres. They grow to 6 to 10 inches tall and can be harvested often if you want to encourage spreading.
Once they spread out, you can easily separate and transplant them. To harvest and use immediately, use scissors and snip about 2 inches from the ground so you don’t disturb the root or bruise the stalks. Plant some chives this spring, and the elegant perennial will grace you with its presence year after year.
So versatile in cooking, chives are a relative of the onion. Their mild, oniony flavor complements other herbs in just about any dish, said Jeremy Kittelson, Avondale’s executive chef.
“The traditional herb mixture known as fines herbes can be made by combining equal portions of chives, tarragon, chervil, and parsley,” said Kittelson. “This is a classic seasoning for chicken, fish and egg dishes.”
Though chives have high levels of vitamins A and C, you’re probably not going to eat enough of them to reap the nutritional value. Typically, they are used in small quantities as a garnish or seasoning. Folklore says that chives, when hung in dried bunches in one’s home, were believed to drive away evil influences. Why not give that a try so your late summer harvest doesn’t go to waste?
1/4 cup fresh chives
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
Place potatoes in a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes for about 25 minutes until tender. Drain and mash potatoes. Once the potatoes are mashed, mix in milk, then sour cream and finally stir in the chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6-8.
1/3 cup fresh chives
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 green onion
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Chop chives, green onion and garlic. Blend together sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, green onion, garlic, sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 1 1/4 cup.
1/4 cup fresh herbs (choose a combination -cilantro, basil, chives, dill, parsley)
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch oven-proof skillet with olive oil. Preheat broiler. Press mashies into bottom of skillet (about 1/4 inch deep) and place on stove. Cook over medium heat until it just starts to sizzle. In a bowl whisk the eggs and add herbs and cheese. Mix well. Pour eggs, herb and cheese mixture on top of potatoes in skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes on the stove until eggs are starting to set. Place zucchini and tomatoes gently and decoratively on top of eggs. Move the skillet to the oven, about 6 inches from the broiler and cook until browned on top (about 10 minutes or until eggs are cooked through). Slice into wedges and serve with mixed green salad. Serves 4 -6.
Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, (larkspurvail.com) at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, (avondalerestaurant.com) opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.