Chive flowers are top contenders for our favourite edible bloom. They taste great – a gentle, onion-like flavour, but without the sharpness or pungency of an actual onion. And they look pretty. The rounded heads of blossom break into tiny handfuls of translucent, papery flowers, each one striped dark lilac, with a little grassy tail attached to the base.
Most of the chives in our garden originated from a supermarket-bought pot. We split the baby herbs up into individual seedlings and planted them out. Over the years they have expanded and are now dotted all over the garden, edging the flowerbeds and creeping into the lawn. They are beautiful in savoury dishes, both in appearance and flavour, and we particularly like to scatter them over salads along with some of their tubular leaves.
Around the same time as the first chive flowers appear, so too come the new potatoes. They sit in brown paper bags on wooden vegetable racks in the farm shop, flaky skinned and soil-dusted. A quick scrub and a quarter hour in salty boiling water will render them sweet, soft and waxy; perfect for the hearty base of a spring dish.
In the veg beds there are plenty of baby rainbow chard and beetroot leaves. Their luminous stems of electric pink, ruby, orange and buttercup yellow add vibrant shots of colour and earthy flavour to the salad bowl. There are plenty of delicate curls of pea shoots as well; their tips offer pops of fresh pea flavour in leaf form. And in the garden flowerbeds, springing up everywhere and on the verge of becoming a pesky weed, is lemon balm. The young leaves, roughly torn and tossed in amongst the leaves, bring whispers of citrus.
This spring salad combines all of the above, plus some of the beautiful radishes that have been in plentiful supply for a while now. There’s a lively mustard dressing too. To ensure the full flavours of the veg and herbs come through, we prefer to drizzle the dressing over the top, rather than tossing and coating everything with it. This way each forkful has an occasional hit of mustard dressing, that compliments the rest of the ingredients without smothering them.
A Spring Salad
For the salad
- 360 g new potatoes
- a small handful of frozen peas
- a large handful of baby rainbow chard and/or baby beetroot leaves
- 10 radishes, halved
- a sprig of fresh lemon balm, leaves picked
- a sprig of fresh garden mint, leaves picked
- a small handful of pea shoots
- 2 chive flowers, broken into individual florets
- freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, ideally raw and unfiltered
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp honey, ideally raw and unpasturised
Boil the potatoes for around 15 minutes in a pan of salted water until cooked through. Drain and set aside to steam dry and cool.
Meanwhile pour a little boiling water over the top of the frozen peas and leave for few minutes to defrost, then drain. They go into the salad raw.
To make the dressing, whisk the Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, honey and sunflower oil together until emulsified.
To assemble the salad, start by halving the potatoes and arranging them across the middle of each plate, leaving a little space between each one. Fill in the gaps with the baby chard and/or beetroot leaves and intersperse with radishes. Scatter the peas, and tear over the lemon balm and mint leaves. Finish with a few pea shoots and a flutter of chive flowers. Season with a few cracks of black pepper, drizzle over the dressing and serve.