Thursday, October 21, 2010

Homegrown Greens/Herbs: Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) is a gorgeous member of the onion family. Similar in flavor to chives, garlic chives have a mild garlic flavor and is often used as a vegetable in Asian cuisines. Known as Gau Choy, Chinese chives, Nira, etc, both the leaves and the young flower stalks with the buds and the flowers can be used in cooking in place of green onions or regular chives.

Garlic chives can be easily grown from seeds or plant divisions. It is a perennial plant that does not require a lot of care. Once planted, it slowly spreads and self seeds also. Harvest the grass like leaves and flower stalks by cutting close to the base. The seeds can be collected to make delicious tasting sprouts during winter months when the chives themselves slow down.

Garlic chives make wonderful border plants in regular as well as the herb gardens with the fragrant and attractive white star-shaped flowers. I have used them in bouquets in high summer when there aren't a lot of other flowers in the garden. The nectar-rich blossoms attract humming birds and beneficial insects like bees.

Use garlic chives as garnish, flavoring, or as veggies in all your recipes in place of regular chives or green onions/scallions. They are delicious in soups and salads too. Here are a few suggestions of recipes: Corn Chowder, Spinach Raita, Fried Rice, and East-West Tofu Toast.

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