A delicate, leafy herb native to the Caucasus region of Eurasia, chervil is a member of the carrot family. With a taste reminiscent of parsley with anise notes, chervil is also known as French parsley, and is a staple ingredient of many classic French sauces.
The ancient Romans prized chervil as warming and purifying herb, and distributed it throughout Europe. During the Middle Ages, tea made with chervil was used to treat hiccups and digestive distress, while chervil roots were boiled to combat the plague. The similarity of chervil’s scent to myrrh led to an association with the Christian religion, and chervil soup is still traditionally served on Holy Thursday in some parts of Europe.
Chervil is rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and folate. It also contains antioxidant-rich flavonoids.
Wrap chervil sprigs in a damp paper towel, seal in a plastic bag or jar, and keep in the refrigerator crisper for up to 5 days.
Chervil is a key herb in French cooking and is included with tarragon, chives, and parsley under the term fines herbs. Chervil is the main flavoring for several classic French sauces used over vegetables and seafood, such as bearnaise and ravigote. The delicate flavor of chervil pairs well with eggs, spring vegetables, and root vegetables. It can also be infused into oil or vinegar and used as a condiment or vinaigrette.
Despite its strong aroma, chervil is a very delicate herb. To preserve flavor, sprinkle chopped chervil raw over dishes, add at the very end of cooking, or preserve leaves in white wine vinegar.