Food editor Sally But­ters is ex­per­i­ment­ing with cre­ative coleslaw vari­a­tions and grow­ing chervil

Shop­ping news and sea­sonal tips from food

NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS - editor Sally But ters

I’ m cook­ing with: CHERVIL

Chervil is very much an un­der­rated herb but its time to shine is a-coming – in my kitchen, at least. Bye-bye bor­ing pars­ley, with your coarse leaves and Ital­ian as­pi­ra­tions; chervil is the “gourmet’s pars­ley”, and I’ve been rather taken by its softer, sweeter, more del­i­cate na­ture and in­ter­est­ing note of anise. A tra­di­tional sym­bol of new life, chervil is also a sign that spring is nigh. Hooray for that!

The French have long known of chervil’s fab­u­lous­ness; along with chives, pars­ley and tar­ragon it is part of the fines herbes com­bi­na­tion, the clas­sic sea­son­ing for egg, fish and poul­try dishes. Chervil also nat­u­rally en­hances the flavour of many other new sea­son foods in­clud­ing sal­mon, chicken, veal, new pota­toes, broad beans, beet­root, peas, as­para­gus, sal­ads and omelettes. In­fused in vine­gar, the leaves im­part a de­li­cious sub­tle flavour; they also make a jolly nice herb but­ter and a pretty, ed­i­ble gar­nish. Chef Ja­son van Dorsten uses it lib­er­ally on his shak­ing beef (see recipe, page 129).

I’ve bought chervil as a “liv­ing herb” from the su­per­mar­ket but its frag­ile ferny leaves don’t last well (and dried chervil, if you could get it, is pur­port­edly taste­less) so my plan is to plant some. An an­nual plant, chervil prefers a cool, shady and damp spot. Like co­rian­der, it bolts in hot weather and doesn’t ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing trans­planted. So I’m plan­ning to sow seed in spring, which should sup­ply plenty of pick­ings up un­til mid­sum­mer.

To avoid flavour loss, chervil is added to food near the end of cook­ing. I in­tend us­ing it when­ever I might have pre­vi­ously opted for pars­ley, and mak­ing it the new star of my sal­ads. Or I may just nib­ble on a sprig or two while out weed­ing; ap­par­ently chervil is good for sharp­en­ing the mind and lift­ing one’s spir­its.

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