Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.
All About Chervil
by Sandra Bowens
What a delight to find fresh chervil at the supermarket the other day! So lacey and pretty, it is tempting to use it to garnish everything. But the flavor is remarkable so by all means, cook with it too.
Often referred to as the “gourmet’s parsley,” chervil tastes mildly of licorice combined with pepper imparting certain freshness to a dish. Fresh or dried, it is a bright green and quite delicate and should be added to a dish at the end of cooking. Chervil has a tendency to enhance the flavors of other herbs when used in combinations. The most notable case is fines herbes, the French blend of at least three herbs, ground fine, where one herb is almost always chervil.
A member of the parsley family, chervil is more delicate and fernlike than the familiar parsley. It is similar in appearance to parsley, available in curly to plain varieties. Native to southern Russia and western Asia, chervil has been known and cultivated in France for centuries. It has recently become a commercial crop in California as well.
Chervil can be grown from seed but cannot tolerate a hot, dry climate. You might try growing it in a pot in your kitchen window. Keep it well-watered and trim frequently, before small white flowers appear, to encourage continued growth. Use those clippings when you want to add a little something extra to a dish. Chervil is said to symbolize sincerity so you can trust it to enhance your cooking.
Not Your Mother’s Peas and Carrots
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh peas, or use frozen petite
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons minced fresh (or 2 teaspoons dried) chervil, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Steam carrots and peas over boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the butter, 1 Tablespoon of the chervil, the salt and pepper in a small bowl. When carrots and peas are cooked, place into a serving bowl and toss with the butter mixture. Sprinkle with remaining chervil and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings
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