Chervil and the Best Ways to Use It

June 14, 2014

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more. This post was brought to you by our friends at Evolution Fresh, who like fresh, flavorful ingredients as much as we do.

Today: Once you get your hands on this hard-to-find herb, you'll see it's all too easy to work it into your meals.

Chervil and the Best Ways to Use It, from Food52

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Chervil looks similar to parsley, and they are indeed related: They both belong to the carrot family -- along with cilantrofennel, and parsley root -- many members of which have similarly feathery tops. And if you stumble upon a fluffy pile of this lacy-leafed (1, below) herb, don’t pass it by. It seems only fair to warn you that although chervil is popular in Europe, it's going to be a challenge to procure in most parts of the U.S.

It's worth seeking out though, mainly for its subtle blend of anise and fresh grassiness (in a pleasant, sweet, springy way, not an "I just chewed on my lawn" way), but also to maintain variety in food production. If the demand isn't there for any product, it isn't going to be grown; and if it's too hard to come by, it's not going to be talked about or show up in recipes. And the cycle will continue. Chervil deserves better -- it's time to start a chervil-ution. Check your farmers market, ask your specialty grocery store to carry it if they aren't already, or try growing your own.

Chervil and the Best Ways to Use It, from Food52

Once you acquire your chervil, you can start testing out its purported benefits: According to Pliny, it’s an aphrodisiac, and could also be used to cure hiccups. Folklore has it that chervil "makes one merry, sharpens the wit, and bestows youth upon the aged." Talk about a versatile herb. 

More: Expand your collection of go-to herbs: Start using shiso in, well, everything.

Chervil and the Best Ways to Use It, from Food52

Chervil is used in Béarnaise sauce, and is traditionally included in mesclun salad mix, so much like tatsoi, you might already be acquainted. In fact, you should start adding chervil to every one of your green salads -- it will bring them all up to Chez Panisse standards. David Lebovitz says that when he worked in the restaurant downstairs, “a handful was added to the green salads served after dinner, and customers always remarked on how especially good our salads tasted. Aside from lovely greens picked that morning, it was often flecks of chervil leaves that did the trick.”

Come springtime, chervil is one of the first available herbs, so it's no surprise that it goes well with all of spring’s darlings: asparagus, radishes, mushrooms. But it's available at other times too, and really, it works with produce in every season: from carrots and tomatoes in warmer weather to beets and cabbage in cooler seasons. Use chervil with seafood, like salmon; pair it with eggs every chance you get; and use it in any other herb-highlighting dishes, like Sauce Gribiche -- but if you’re okay with breaking the rules, we highly recommend a handful or two in green rice.

Tell us: How do you like to use chervil?

Photos by James Ransom

This post was brought to you by Evolution Fresh. Check out their new pairing guide to find out which foods go best with their juices. 


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AriH
  • ChefJune
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
  • Phyl Martin
    Phyl Martin
  • the totally not-foolish pucko
    the totally not-foolish pucko
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


AriH June 18, 2014
I occasionally make chervil soup when I have a lot to use up - so delicate and delightful. It is indeed a race against time when growing it because one moment it's green and fresh, the next the plant bolts to bloom and set seed and it becomes more coarse and tough.
ChefJune June 16, 2014
Love chervil. but it is not easy to grow and it is hard to find. When I do, I like to buzz it up inthe Cuisinart with some panko bread crumbs and dried mustard. Then I store it in the freezer and have it for "a while" for making crusty broiled fish fillets. I use it fresh for Cervelle de Canut
Kenzi W. June 16, 2014
Chervil-ution! Count me in.
Phyl M. June 16, 2014
Recently had chervil at Girasol Restaurant in Studio City. It was a touch sweetened with possibly powdered sugar and sprinkled over a wonderful ricotta tart with a macadamia/graham crust. Very tasty herb. Looking for it toadd to my garden any hints on a source?
the T. June 15, 2014
Love love love chervil. But when I grow it it's a race against time, because eventually the ants will start an aphid ranch on it as soon as it's really warm.
AdeleK June 14, 2014
I like to use it in scrambled eggs and omelets, possibly with a little tarragon. I also use it in my fresh or dried Herbs de Provence mixture. It is also great as a fish seasoning and in sauces.