Celebrating Spring With Chervil

Chervil in a Raised bed

Every year I plant seeds or transplants in my garden which I know little to nothing about. I am adventurous but not wildly adventurous, since I do not have a lot of space. I will be the first to admit I do not always know how to use or prepare a new plant for it highest and best use, so very often it can take me years to observe, research and test a new plant.

Chervil was this sort of an experience for me. The longer I have chervil in my garden the more I come to love it. A member of the Apiaceae (Carrot Family), Chervil resembles parsley in its mounded shape and carrots in the delicacy of its foliage although the leaves are more similar to parsley than carrots.

Delicate fernlike foliage gives hints of a delicate anise flavor and smell. French and English cooking have long utilized this warming herb which slowly and subtly fills your senses as you ingest it. I equate Chervil with happiness and with Spring! I swear Chervil adds happiness to my body!

My discovery of Chervil’s talents began with adding the fragile fronds to fresh salads. Chervil has a talent for lingering in the background to fill any spaces left by other foods and then tying everything together for your taste buds.

Chervil is such a low maintenance herb. It reseeds itself; does not like to be transplanted; loves cool weather so it will grow all fall, winter, spring until late June/July here in North Carolina.

Eventually I figured out that Chervil is essential to a great Béarnaise sauce or other light sauces; Eggs, chicken, salmon, trout, cream cheese, salads, and dressings all benefit from this lovely herb. My personal favorite use is Chervil Pesto with Salmon and Pasta!

To celebrate a beautiful Spring day, I prepared a lovely piece of salmon coated in Chervil Pesto and baked it in a parchment cooking bag. While the salmon was baking, I steamed some fresh green peas and asparagus; cooked some fresh pasta and sliced some fresh organic tomatoes from a more southern state than where I reside! I like smaller pasta for this dish such as spinach tortellini or Foglie di Ulivo Olive-Leaf Shaped Pasta from Italy as these pasta shapes catch and hold the Pesto in just the right amount for my taste. Not too much and not too little!

Spring could not be welcomed in any better way than a sunny 70 degree Fahrenheit day, clear blue skies with an occasional fluffy cloud and Salmon with Pasta and Chervil Pesto and a glass of wine from The Wine Feed.

Of course, I found a perfect wine from The Wine Feed to complement this dish! A dry white Italian wine called Cantina Frentana Cococciola Terre di Chieti 2011. This fabulous clean, crisp white wine with floral, mineral and herbal essences and its pale straw color with greenish reflections is perfect with this salmon and chervil dish. You will also find enticing white fruit and citrus aromas, mingled with subtle notes of green apple and unripe melon, lemon and very good acidity. The finish is long, light and mineral.

So I raise my glass to you, to Spring and to Lovely Cicely (another name for Chervil)! Wishing you a wonderful Spring and may you find a space for Chervil in your garden and in your kitchen!

Chervil Pesto

1 cup packed fresh chervil
1/4 cup Parmesan/Romano/Manchego cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and grind till it becomes a finely ground paste. Use this pesto quickly. It can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen in ice cube trays for later use. Always add chervil at end of cooking right before serving unless the recipe says otherwise. Chervil pesto has a very delicate flavor.
You can add lemon peel and /or lemon juice to brighten the fresh taste right before serving.

Salmon Coated with Chervil Pesto in Parchment Recipe

½ cup chervil pesto
1 pound fresh salmon
1 parchment pouch
Lemon for juice
Rinse salmon and pat dry.
Place salmon with skin side down.
Coat the salmon with chervil pesto on the topside of the salmon.
Place in a parchment pouch and seal.
Put parchment pouch in a baking pan.
Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Squeeze lemon juice over fish to brighten the flavor right before serving.

Asparagus, Peas and Spinach Tortellini with Chervil Pesto

¼ to ½ cup chervil pesto
1 pound fresh spinach tortellini or olive leaf pasta
1 bunch steamed asparagus
1 cup steamed peas
Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions.   I use my steamed vegetable water to give extra taste to the pasta.
Save some pasta water for thinning the sauce if needed.
Cut the tough ends off the asparagus and place whole asparagus spears in a steamer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove asparagus from steamer and cool the hot asparagus in cold water till chilled and then drain and set aside. Add peas to steamer hot water for 1 minute. Move peas to cool water to cool peas down and drain. Set aside. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add chervil pesto to the hot pasta to taste and mix the pasta water in to get pesto evenly spread throughout the pasta and to the consistency you like. Slice the asparagus into ¾ inch sections and add peas and asparagus to pasta and gently mix.

Serve immediately. Use additional grated parmesan, romano or manchego cheese if desired.

For more info on Chervil: