From the Herb Garden: Chervil

Chervil is another herb that we'd really like to use more often, but can never think how. It looks like parsley and tastes like mild basil, but it's flavor has a tendency to evaporate into thin air in a lot of dishes. What is this mystery herb and how can we cook with it?

Chervil comes from the carrot family along with dill, parsley, and fennel. It does look incredibly similar to parsley, except the leaves are smaller, lacier, and paler in color. Chervil also shares one of the same aromatic compounds as tarragon. This gives chervil a very delicate anise aroma and flavor.

Any amount of cooking just destroys the flavor of chervil. Luckily, it's so tender to begin with it can be tossed into dishes at the very last second or even eaten raw. By the way, this includes the drying process: don't even bother with using dried chervil!

Try tossing whole chervil leaves into salad mixes. They add a fresh, sweet flavor to contrast bitter greens and spicy arugula. Or you can mix finely chopped chervil into a vinaigrette to pour over your salad. This is especially tasty when you add in the other classic "fine herbes": chives, tarragon, and parsley.

Chervil is also fantastic with eggs! We like to sprinkle a little over the tops of omelets right before serving or stir minced leaves into gently cooked eggs en cocotte. You can also chop the leaves very finely and mix them into butter to use with steamed vegetables, fish, and grilled meats. The residual heat from the food amplifies the aroma of the chervil without destroying its flavor.

Do you like chervil? How do you use it?

Related: Try This: Tarragon-Infused Drinks

(Image: Shenandoah Growers - Fresh Herbs)

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