Chervil is also known as French parsley, and it is really similar in both appearance and taste to the good all regular parsley. They are true relatives among herbs.
My mom used to put parsley in everything she cooked for us as she believed that it is one of the healthiest herbs out there. I was not a great fan of this practice, but I grew accustomed to it and accepted things as they are.
When I first started living on my own and had to cook for myself, parsley was the last thing on my list. I avoided it almost completely, even when it was a part of a recipe.
When I visited my parents, I realized that my mom’s food tastes better than mine and it dawned on me that parsley, together with some other spices and herbs I have avoided using, gave the dishes she cooked that something that made you crave for more.
Slowly, but surely, I have grown to love parsley, and I now use it even more often than my mother used to. My boys tend to frown upon it, but I ignore that, as I know that it is just a childish insurgency. Chervil is for me the same as parsley - an incredibly versatile herb that is super healthy and adds great flavor and aroma to your dishes.
Unfortunately, chervil is a bit harder to come by than regular parsley and therefore it is good to have a few chervil substitute ideas up your sleeve. Parsley is an obvious solution, but I will offer a few more suggestions so do read on!
What Is Chervil?
Chervil, or the Anthriscus cerefolium, is a member of the parsley-family. For this reason, it is often referred to as the French parsley too.
Garden Chervil is a delicate annual herb native to the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe. It has been used ever since the ancient times, and the Romans are the most responsible for spreading this mild-flavored herb throughout Europe.
In modern times people mostly use it to produce the so-called French herb mixture or to season mild-flavored dishes, especially young spring vegetables, poultry, seafood, and soups. It is a great addition to almost every sauce there is! As far as the taste is concerned, it features a delicate flavor that resembles that of aniseed.
Together with parsley, tarragon, and chives, chervil belongs to the traditional French fines herbs and is irreplaceable in French cuisine. All the fines herbes should be added to a dish during the last minute of cooking as to preserve their delicate flavor and health benefits. Chervil can be eaten fresh as well, as a part of your favorite salad for example.
Chervils is fairly easy to grow. Plant it in early spring, or, if you want to grow it inside, in the late fall. Choose a cool and moist place and harvest the leaves regularly as to prevent bolting. It can grow up to 24 inches long and 12 inches wide and have curly tripinnate leaves.
Why Should You Use Chervil For Cooking?
As my mom said parsley is good for everything, and so is its close relative chervil. Indeed, the list of health benefits of this small plant is so long and it has numerous uses in folk medicine.
I have read quite a lot about this subject and here is what I have discovered chervil can do for you:
- Aid digestion - Chervil regulates the movement of your bowels and prevents constipation as well as aids in relieving irritable bowel syndrome.
- Regulate blood pressure - Chervil improves your blood circulation and helps not only lower high blood pressure but also prevent the occurrence of low blood pressure. It can help in the treatment of varicose veins and hemorrhages as well.
- Stop hiccups - If you want to stop irritating hiccups you have two options: you can chew fresh chervil leaves or rely on chervil infused with vinegar for a cure.
- Help remove mucous - Chervil acts as an expectorant and helps remove mucus from your respiratory organs thus preventing bronchitis or pneumonia.
- Detoxify your body - As parsley, chervil is an excellent diuretic and promotes normal urination. It helps "wash" your body and remove the toxins that can cause diseases. It also helps during the notorious PMS by preventing water retention and bloating.
- Relieve pain and inflammation - Chervil acts as a mild analgesic but also has anti-inflammatory properties. If you feel pain, chervil can help.
- Slow down the aging process - By detoxifying your body, chervil helps you retain your good looks longer as well. It reduces the early signs of aging such as fine lines or wrinkles and dark spots. By making your blood purer, the chervil causes your skin to appear younger and be sleek and smooth.
- Help treat certain skin conditions - If you suffer from eczema or have a problem with acne, you can try making a face-tonic from chervil.
- Help relieve incest bites - The pain and discomfort caused by insect bites can be reduced by putting some chervil on the sore area.
- Enhance vision - Chervil can help improve your vision due to high vitamin A content.
- Improve oral health - If you suffer from mouth ulcers or gum diseases, chervil can be a good cure and prevention measure.
As you can see, chervil is very healthy and good to have around. However, if it happens that you run out of it at some moment, there are chervil substitutes you can rely on - at least for cooking purposes!
Chervil Substitute Options
There are a few options when you cannot get around to stock up on chervil, and you crave for its unique taste. Of course, nothing will be quite the same, but try the following things, and you might even end up liking the change:
- As I have already implied, parsley is the most obvious choice when you want to substitute chervil. They come from the same family and share an evident and strong resemblance.
- Some people will not even notice a difference if you use parsley as a garnish instead of the chervil. Do mind that parsley has even more delicate taste than chervil and you need to add it at the end of cooking not to destroy its taste altogether. Dried parsley is even less flavorful, so whenever possible use it fresh.
- 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped chervil leaves can be replaced by the same amount of fresh parsley leaves (1 tbsp., chopped).
- Like chervil, tarragon is a fines herbes you can chop up and use to garnish or complement your dishes. It goes exquisitely with poultry and fish. Tarragon also has a taste similar to that of chervil - with a delicate note of anise.
- However, tarragon has a much stronger aroma that can even overpower the main flavors of the dish. You should, therefore, use it sparingly, at least until you discover the amount that suits your palate.
3. Fennel Leaves
- Another herb widely popular in French cuisine is the fennel. Fennel leaves are mostly used dried but can also be fresh if you prefer it. It is mostly used to compliment pork dishes but is also often added to sausages and other meat products.
- Fennel can be a chervil substitute in most dishes, but it is best for salads. The quantity of fennel, when used as a chervil alternative, should be exactly the same as the amount of chervil the recipe requires.
- Dill is another relative of parsley and chervil. My granny used to use it for pickling for centuries, but it can be a decent chervil substitute too. The aroma of the dill reminds to that of anise, the same as the aroma of the chervil and tarragon. Use the same amount of fresh dill weed as you would chervil.
- Cicely is my final suggestion for chervil substitute - it has the same anise note and can be used in the same way as chervil. To replace one tablespoon of freshly chopped chervil add ½ - ¾ tbsp of cicely.
As you can see, you should really try to use chervil as often as possible as it will greatly benefit your health. In case you cannot find it, you are now armed with the knowledge about numerous chervil substitute options.
Use them with no hesitations as I have already tried them all and they worked just fine. If you have some suggestions for chervil substitute, do comment!