From the Greek "khairephullon" meaning Ceres' leaf (goddess of the harvest).

This edible aromatic plant resembles curly parsley. Delicate, dentated, intensely green leaves, with a ridged and lightly hairy stem.

A relative of the dreaded hemlock, chervil is discreet and has few stories surrounding it. Curly, bulbous or musky, it did not even prove tempting to the cooks of its native Russia. It was first the Romans, and then the French during medieval times, who adopted it. "Love child" in ancient Greek times, it was called rich man's parsley in the Middle Ages. In the 18th century, it was stylish to serve a small poached salmon hidden under a chervil mousseline.

Nutritional values
Used for its digestive, depurative, diuretic and stimulant qualities. Chervil is a early-growing herb known for its blood-purifying ability. It is also found in many traditional Lenten dishes.

Buying chervil
Look for a firm stem, nice straight leaves without blemishes or yellowing, and no wilting.

It is delicate, but can be kept for a few days in a tightly-closed container in the lower part of the refrigerator. Otherwise, place the stems in a glass of water.
Frozen: Place chopped herbs into an ice-cube tray and cover with water.

Cooking tips
Mild and with a faint anise flavour, it prefers to stand on its own instead of being paired with other herbs. It does, however, go well with tarragon. Chervil imparts a distinctive flavour to cold sauces such as bearnaise, ravigote and remoulade. It pairs well with white fish and shellfish, eggs, poultry and certain soups such as gazpacho and cream-based soups, white cheeses and carrots.

Snip and use the leaves at the last minute. They do not stand up to high temperatures nor to chopping, since their essential oils are volatile.


  • As a main ingredient in bearnaise sauce, it is a good accompaniment for fish and asparagus; the sauce is also good with these dishes if whipped until light and frothy.
  • Chervil butter is perfect with young spring vegetables; swirl a little butter into a rich chicken stock thickened with egg yolk and flavoured with chervil. Use to flavour creamed tiny vegetables served in a puff pastry shell.
  • Chervil leaves are also a perfect flavouring for white wine vinegars.

France - Chervil butter sauce - from a recipe by Carême : to a basic butter sauce, add to it a little salt, pepper, grated nutmeg, the juice of half a lemon, a large knob of butter and a generous spoonful of blanched chervil leaves.


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