Herb Profile: Chervil

A subtle, tender herb perfect for dressings, sauces, and garnishes, chervil also has health benefits such as relieving upset stomachs or skin inflammation.

| July 2016

  • These delicate plants look much like their relative, parsley, but smaller and with more elaborate, fringed edges.
    Photo by Fotolia/Brent Hofacker
  • “Herb & Spice Companion: The Complete Guide to Over 100 Herbs & Spices” by Lindsay Herman
    Photo courtesy of Wellfleet Press

When it comes to cooking, the sheer variety of herbs and spices can be overwhelming. With all the powders, jars, and plants available, how do you know what to buy and when to use it? When is fresh better than dry? Should you eat the stems, the leaves, the roots? In Herb & Spice Companion (Wellfleet Press, 2015), Lindsay Herman has created an accessible guide to seasonings, with over one hundred profiles of the most-used herbs and spices across the globe. As exampled here with chervil, Herman provides a comprehensive look at each plant’s history, how to prep and serve and store the seasoning, and how to grow your own herbs from seed to harvest. That’s not even mentioning her instructions on various techniques for drying, freezing, frying, mixing, crushing, and chopping that are both brilliant and simple. A book for everyone, from cooks just starting out to old pros adding excitement to their dishes, Herb & Spice Companion is a must for any kitchen.

Chervil

Anthriscus cerefolium
Flavors: sweet and subtle anise, with parsley

Chervil plants have lacy leaves that look much like parsley, only smaller and with intricately fringed edges. They’re a relative of parsley, dill, and fennel — all of which are members of the carrot family — so you’ll likely find it stocked near those similar herbs.

A signature herb of French cooking, chervil is essential to the traditional fine herbes blend and a common ingredient in creamy béarnaise sauce. It’s a tender, subtle herb that’s best served fresh or added at the end of cooking to keep the flavor intact. For this reason, chervil is ideal for salads, dressings, sauces, and eggs, or sprinkled over soups and cooked dishes just before serving. The herb’s pretty leaves also make it a wonderful garnish.



Health Benefits

Chervil is believed to soothe stomach upset, lower blood pressure, and aid circulation. It’s also been used to relieve inflammation, including conditions such as gout as well as skin inflammation like eczema, acne, and topical allergic reactions.

In the Garden

Chervil is an annual that thrives in containers. Take care when choosing a pot, as it doesn’t fare well when transplanted.



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