Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), native to Asia, were first used in China. This perennial herb forms clumps of long, strap-like tubular leaves. It blooms in spring and summer with ball-like 1" lavender-colored flower heads atop stiff stems. Seeds can be sown indoors, 1/4" deep 3-4 weeks before the last frost.

Germination takes from 14 to 21 days. Four weeks after seedlings emerge, transplant outdoors, spacing about every 12". Water upon planting and mulch to conserve moisture. Once established, plants may be fed with an all-purpose fertilizer as shoots emerge in the spring and again after bloom. To encourage the plants to store nutrients for next year’s bloom, deadhead spent flower heads.

For culinary use, harvest leaves anytime. The flowers are also edible. Chive plants are attractive, disease- and deer-resistant, and able to tolerate poor soil.

Stroll through the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden this month and catch the beauty of chives in bloom.

Chive Tartines with Smoked Salmon

1 cup 1-inch pieces fresh chives
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 tbsp crumbled soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons minced shallots

20 3/4-inch thick diagonal slices
French-bread baguette
6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
Additional chopped fresh chives

Puree 1 cup chives and oil in blender 2 minutes. Pour into five sieve set over medium bowl. Let drain 1 hour and discard solids.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix goat cheese and shallots in small bowl; season to taste with fresh cracked pepper. Place bread slices on large baking sheet. Brush both sides of bread lightly with chive oil. Spread each slice with 11/2 teaspoons of cheese mixture.

Bake bread until light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter. Drape 1 salmon slice over each. Sprinkle with additional chopped chives.

Makes 20 appetizers.