A couple of years ago, a customer asked me if I sold chervil. I remember thinking to myself “what the heck is chervil?” I had heard of it, of course, but had no idea what it looked like or even how it was used. The customer said she was looking for it because Martha Stewart had recommended it. Aha! My first clue. It is a culinary herb.
Chervil, also known as French Parsley, is a French culinary herb that looks a lot like parsley and tastes a little like tarragon or fennel. It is one of the fines herbes (a mixture of tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives) used in so many French dishes. Used in combination with tarragon, peppercorns and shallots, it gives béarnaise sauce its distinctive flavor. By itself, it is used in soups and omelets. Remember to always add chervil at the end of the cooking time since its delicate flavor is destroyed when cooked for too long.
Not a French cook? Use the flowers as a garnish. Chervil can also be found in the popular micro green mixes.
Like parsley and cilantro (the seed is coriander), chervil is a cool season plant. It grows best in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler. In the heat of summer, it bolts (goes to seed). Or you can allow it to bolt, collect the seeds and do another sowing for a second crop in the fall. For best results, direct sow the seed in your garden. Chervil has a long tap root and doesn’t like to be transplanted. Plant it in a spot with a little shade to prolong its growing season and keep it moist. Don’t let it dry out.
I love to cook using fresh herbs and so do my customers. I offer this versatile herb for sale every year now.