Chicory is as versatile as a foraged plant can get. You can use just about every part of it: the fibrous leaves, the hearty root, and even the dandelion-like flower. Since it was first cultivated in ancient Egypt—and, by the way, also in ancient Greece and Rome—this plant has been developed for many different uses. You'll find it in a variety of sizes and colors, and it is known by several different names: radicchio, sugarloaf, and Belgian endive, to name a few.
Although chicory is mostly consider a weed in the United States, the plant's root is the not-so-secret ingredient in the coffee brewed at Café Du Monde in New Orleans. As the story goes, the endive was used to stretch out meager supplies when coffee was scarce during the French civil war. The French brought it to Louisiana, and today, you can still order up a cup of the coffee/chicory mix with the cafe's world-famous beignets.
Using this Plant
- Greens: used for salads, juices, and other recipes; can be harvested through the growing season but will be most tender and less bitter before flowering in Spring
- Roots: can be roasted, ground, and used as a coffee substitute; best harvested autumn through winter
- Flowers: can be used for dye and have many medicinal qualities; flowering can happen April through October, depending on the variety and zone
Chicory Recipes from Around the Web:
- Braised Chicory (gluten free, meat free)
- Chicory and Grapefruit Green Smoothie (dairy free, gluten free, meat free)
- Chicory, Leek, and Chicken Stew (dairy free, gluten free)
- Chicory Salad with Anchovy Dressing (dairy free, gluten free, meat free)
- Raw Salad with Fennel, Seville Orange, Chicory, and Kohlrabi (dairy free, gluten free, meat free)
- Pickled Eggs with Mayonnaise on Chicory Leaves (dairy free, gluten free)
Warning: Only consume plants you can positively identify and know are safe to eat.