Chive plants are small but mighty. I think of them as the Cinderella of the herb garden: asking little in the way of care, humble, not too showy, but lovely in their own way, especially when sporting their pinky-purple blossoms. They’re also the earliest of the herbs to grow to any size in the spring, keeping pace with the first daffodils. Mine are at least 10 inches tall already, deep green and just asking to be snipped for all manner of culinary uses.

You can grow chives from seed, but why bother? Just get a plant division from a friend or purchase a small pot of them, stick them in the ground in a sunny spot with reasonably rich soil, water them well until they settle in, and then forget about them. This is a good time to plant chives, but last summer, during a hot dry spell, I had to move two basketball-sized clumps to make room for some new porch steps.

I spaded them up, gave away a few chunks, and divided the remainder into five plants that I hastily stuck in the ground, with a splash of water and some reassurances that they’d be fine in their new home, as they were. Alas, they’ll need moving again as the garden is being reconfigured post-construction, but I have no doubt they’ll do fine once again.

As long as they’re cut back when they’ve finished blooming and look shaggy, chives will continue to produce all summer long. When chive blossoms appear, plan to use them as edible garnishes for salads and deviled eggs — and to make a gorgeous pink chive-flavored vinegar. Fill a quart jar about half full of white vinegar. Start snipping chive blossoms as they open and add them to the jar. If you snip and remove blossoms as they appear, your plant will continue to make flowers. Once the jar is full, with vinegar covering the blossoms, cover and let steep in a dark closet or cupboard for at least two weeks. The blossoms will fade to white and the vinegar will become a shockingly pink color. Strain into an ornamental bottle and cap.

So what can be done with an abundance of chives? If you have even a small plant, a few tablespoons of chopped chives make a great addition to any egg dish, including egg salad, and are a key ingredient in my favorite faux Boursin-type cheese spread.

C H I V E   C H E E S E   S P R E A D

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
14 tsp. each sea salt and freshly ground pepper
14 cup minced parsley
2 Tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tsp. lemon zest
Mix all ingredients together until well-combined, then pack into a ramekin or small bowl and refrigerate for an hour or so.

If you have a more substantial chive plant, use some of them in this potato dish, named for a favorite windjammer captain I once sailed with.

C A P T A I N   T E D ’ S   P O T A T O E S

5 lbs. potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups cottage cheese
112 cups sour cream
12 cup each finely minced chives and parsley
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste
smoked Spanish paprika (optional)
Cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Add garlic, cottage cheese, sour cream, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper and mash with a potato masher until ingredients are incorporated but mixture is still coarse. Place in a serving bowl and top with a light sprinkle of paprika.

For those with large, mature chive plants, pesto is an option — and a way to preserve some of that delicate chive flavor if you freeze the mixture in small jars.

C H I V E   P E S T O

12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 cup (packed) chopped chives
12 cup (packed) chopped parsley
3 Tbsp. slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, or pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine 12 cup chives, parsley, almonds, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With machine running, gradually add oil through feed tube and process until incorporated. Transfer pesto to a small bowl and stir in lemon juice and two tablespoons water. Season with salt and pepper.