Chicory is a root that has periwinkle flowers in the dandelion family. Its most popular application is a caffeine-free herbal replacement for coffee. The flavor is similar to coffee when brewed. In New Orleans, chicory was added to coffee beans during coffee shortages and economic crises to stretch supplies, thus creating a beloved beverage. The addition of warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and star anise is a great way to improve a morning brewing routine.
Chicory can be consumed as a whole plant, but different parts of the ingredient have specific purposes. The root is most often used for coffee substitutes and is sometimes added to beets during the brewing process. The wild leaves can be edible raw, but they are most often sauteed, similar to spinach. On the other hand, cultivated chicory leaves are used in salads as lettuce similar in flavor to radicchio or endive.
Market research firm Datassential reports that awareness of chicory is highest among vegans and vegetarians, with about 44% of the general population being familiar with it.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and get inspired by how one restaurant is using chicory on its menu.