31 August 2006

Chive flowers

In May, I was in Washington, DC, on business and I stopped in to Equinox for lunch. I like that restaurant. I’ve eaten there a couple of times for dinner, but this was my first time there for lunch. Instead of an entrée, I ordered a salad and a first course.

The salad was the mozzarella and baby spinach salad. The first course was the orecchiette with artichoke hearts. Both were delicious. I highly recommend either one.

The salad had these cute little white flowers sprinkled over. I was intrigued, especially because the menu description didn’t mention them. After I had paid, and as I was leaving, I stopped to chat with the maitre d’. My server walked by, and I just asked her about the flowers. She said she thought they were chive flowers, but she’d send the chef out to tell me.

In just a minute, the chef came out of the kitchen. He confirmed that they were, indeed, chive flowers. He said he had snipped them off of the chive plants at his home that morning. He hold me all you do is pick the flower bud and then snip off the base of the bud. Then he just sprinkled all of the little stamens and flowers over the salad.

I’ve had edible flowers before, but I’ve never thought about actually using them in anything that I cook. But I have chives in my garden – it would be such an easy thing to add the chive flowers to salads or pasta in my own kitchen!

Unfortunately, my chives had already finished blooming for the spring. I was able to clip a few final blooms, but didn’t really get much chance to try it.

Fortunately, even in Minnesota, our season is long enough so that chives bloom twice. And mine have just started to bloom again! Tonight for dinner, I clipped a bud and sprinkled chive blossoms over my risotto (made with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and smoked cheddar cheese). It was so much fun!

By the way, the plants that are currently blooming are garlic chives. My dad gave us the plant several years ago. The chives have a delicate garlic flavor and are a great substitution to any recipe that calls for chives.

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