Chicory contains many vitamins and minerals and is known for its aromatic bitter taste. The main areas where chicory is grown include Belgium, France, and Holland. It is also becoming increasingly popular in Germany and Switzerland. Chicory is used to make fresh salads, delicious stir-fried dishes, and casseroles and dips.
From Wikipedia: “Chicory (Cichorium intybus) is a somewhat woody, perennial herbaceous plant of the dandelion family Asteraceae, usually with bright blue flowers, rarely white or pink. Many varieties are cultivated for salad leaves, chicons (blanched buds), or roots (var. sativum), which are baked, ground, and used as a coffee substitute and additive. It is also grown as a forage crop for livestock. It lives as a wild plant on roadsides in its native Europe, and is now common in North America, China, and Australia, where it has become widely naturalized. "Chicory" is also the common name in the United States for curly endive (Cichorium endivia); these two closely related species are often confused.”
“Wild chicory leaves usually have a bitter taste. Their bitterness is appreciated in certain cuisines, such as in the Ligurian and Apulian regions of Italy and also in southern part of India along with coffee, in Catalonia, Greece, and Turkey. In Ligurian cuisine, wild chicory leaves are an ingredient of preboggion and in Greek cuisine of horta; in the Apulian region, wild chicory leaves are combined with fava bean puree in the traditional local dish fave e cicorie selvatiche. in Albania, the leaves are used as a spinach substitute, mainly served simmered and marinated in olive oil, or as ingredient for fillings of byrek.
By cooking and discarding the water, the bitterness is reduced, after which the chicory leaves may be sautéed with garlic, anchovies, and other ingredients. In this form, the resulting greens might be combined with pasta or accompany meat dishes.
Chicory may be cultivated for its leaves, usually eaten raw as salad leaves. Cultivated chicory is generally divided into three types, of which there are many varieties:
The Catalogna chicory (also known as puntarelle) includes a whole subfamily (some varieties from Belgian endive and some from radicchio) of chicory and used throughout Italy.
Although leaf chicory is often called "endive", true endive (Cichorium endivia) is a different species in the genus and should not be confused with Belgian endive.”
“Root chicory contains volatile oils similar to those found in plants in the related genus Tanacetum which includes Tansy, and is similarly effective at eliminating intestinal worms. All parts of the plant contain these volatile oils, with the majority of the toxic components concentrated in the plant's root.
Chicory is well known for its toxicity to internal parasites. Studies indicate that ingestion of chicory by farm animals results in reduction of worm burdens, which has prompted its widespread use as a forage supplement. Only a few major companies are active in research, development, and production of chicory varieties and selections, most in New Zealand.
Chicory (especially the flower), used as a folk medicine in Germany, is recorded in many books as an ancient German treatment for everyday ailments. It is variously used as a tonic and as a treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises. (Howard M. 1987). Chicory contains inulin, which may help humans with weight loss, constipation, improving bowel function and general health. In rats, it may increase calcium absorption and bone mineral density. It also increases absorption of calcium and other minerals in humans.
Chicory has demonstrated antihepatotoxic potential in animal studies.
Chicory has been listed as one of the 38 plants that are used to prepare Bach flower remedies, a kind of alternative medicine. However, according to Cancer Research UK, "there is no scientific evidence to prove that flower remedies can control, cure or prevent any type of disease, including cancer".
The Cherokee use an infusion of the root as a tonic for nerves. The Iroquois use a decoction of the roots as a wash and apply a poultice of it to chancres and fever sores.”