In Asian markets, garlic chives are often referred to as Chinese chives. They are part of the allium family (allium tuberosum). Mature ones develop pod-like buds at the top that have a nice crunch and a bold onion-garlic flavor. They are often used in stir-fries, and really shine in this bright spring salad.
Once you remove the flowers from the chives, you can still use parts of the blades as you would regular chives, but not too much of them if the stems are stringy. However, they can be tied together in bundles and dropped into stocks or broths or the cooking water of rice, noodles and potatoes. (Discard the chive bundles once cooked.) The stems can be frozen.
For a couple of months in the spring, you can find fresh chickpeas in the markets. They have to be removed from their pods, but they are worth the effort. The chickpeas are delicate and taste like a cross between English peas and edamame. It is fine to cook them with their remaining thin skins, unless you really want to go to all the bother of removing them, which will reduce the total yield. Add the cheese at the end so that its crumbled chunks stay intact.
If you have sun drop, grape or cherry tomatoes, feel free to halve them and add them to the salad.
Make Ahead: The salad needs to be refrigerated for several hours or up to overnight (for best flavor). Let the salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Yield: Makes about 4 cups
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste, plus more for the cooking water
- 20 ounces fresh chickpeas, pods removed (about 2 1/2 cups, shelled; see headnote)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)
- 8 medium (5 ounces) radishes, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup flowering chinese (garlic) chive buds, with 1 inch of chive still attached to them, plus 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish (see headnote)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; add a generous pinch of salt. Add the chickpeas and carrots; cook for about 3 minutes, until just cooked through. Drain and rinse until cool.
Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl. Add the radishes, chive buds, oil, vinegar, thyme leaves, a teaspoon of the salt and the pepper, stirring to combine. Gently stir in the crumbled feta cheese, trying to preserve its larger pieces. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.
Remove the salad from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Garnish with chopped Chinese chives.
From the Process columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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