Chicory a Versatile Herb

Published on 10 July 2023 at 10:22

Chicory A Versatile Herb


I have a friend who is interested in Chicory and we have talked about it a few times.  But recently she requested that I do some research on it.  What I found surprised me.


Its sky-blue flowers have always fascinated me from childhood.  And of course, growing up with an Herbalist mother, I knew that its roots were often roasted and used as a coffee substitute, especially popular in New Orleans.  Its popularity stemmed from the 1800’s in France, when it began to be mixed with coffee because of a coffee shortage.  That way, the coffee could be stretched out, and it also cut the caffeine.  It’s popularity spread from there. Today it is used as a caffeine-free drink very similar to coffee with a nutty flavor.


Who would’ve guessed it was from the dandelion family and is related as well to endive and radicchio?  Like the dandelion, it too has a wealth-load of vitamins and minerals. According to the USDA FoodData Cental, chicory is a great source of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron-folic acid and potassium as well as vitamin A, B6, C, E, and K. The leaves, roots and buds are all used beneficially health-wise because they are so packed with phytochemicals.  And some cancer studies have shown that Chicory extract is capable of shrinking tumors. 


To eat the leaves fresh, toss them in a salad and drizzle with a vinaigrette or stir-fry them. Or you can make a saute. This recipe originally appeared in Martha Stewart Living March 2002:


Sauteed Chicory



This is a quick and delicious side dish for any season, since chicory is available year-round. Radicchio, a red-leaf chicory, adds a contrasting bitter note as well as a splash of color.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 head radicchio (about 10 ounces), trimmed and sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 bunch chicory (about 1 ½ pounds), trimmed and roughly chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add anchovies and cook 1 minute. Add radicchio and chicory; saute until slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving platter, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.


 I’m going to enjoy a summer salad this week and try adding Chicory to it.  It will bring an interesting note to my regular salads.  Chicory is certainly versatile.  You can use the flowers/buds, leaves and root.  And I have plenty of it growing in my field right now.





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