Chervil is perhaps the world’s cutest herb. It produces mounds of delicate, ferny foliage, and in early summer lacy white flowers float above the leaves, luring in lots of beneficial insects. Chervil tastes like a very happy marriage between parsley and tarragon. It has a very mild anise flavor that pairs up especially nicely with eggs, potatoes, and asparagus. And best of all, you really only need to plant chervil once. In early summer, after the flowers fade, chervil drops its seeds to the ground where they hang about in the soil, biding their time until the conditions are just perfect for germination (usually when the weather cools down in late summer or early fall).
Chervil is an extremely popular herb in France, but for some inexplicable reason it is almost completely unknown and un-grown in the United States. I’ve never seen it offered at a grocery store and I only rarely spot seedlings at nurseries. Luckily, chervil grows quickly and easily from seed, which you can mail order from Kitchen Garden Seeds. Simple scatter the seeds over bare soil and scratch them in with a rake. Keep the soil moist and the chervil will sprout within a few days. I like to sow it as an understory plant below large brassicas like broccoli.
To harvest, simply snip back individual stems, working from the outside in. Add whole leaves to salads, add chopped chervil to vinaigrettes or stir it into mashed potatoes or potato salad. You can also use the herb as a garnish on egg dishes and to add flavor to roasted vegetables. It is not too late to plant chervil this spring! So get some seed and toss it in the ground. I bet once it sprouts, you will soon decide that chervil deserves a spot in your permanent spot in your garden and kitchen right alongside standbys like Italian parsley and basil.