Wild Chicory is a plant with leaves that look rather like dandelion, but that surprises you with beautiful spikes of blue flowers all through the Summer and into Autumn. Bees adore it.
I obtained my seeds from Bee Happy Plants, courtesy of a gift voucher from my lovely sister-in-law.
Over the last weekend in November this year, I cut down some of the remaining flower spikes that still had plenty of leaves on. The great thing about this plant is that you can also eat it. It is bitter, but this can be alleviated. I added a teaspoon of salt to cold water in a trug, and popped the leaves in to soak for a few hours. This keeps them fresh until we are ready to use them, and the salt draws out some of the bitterness.
Then the cook of our household (not me; I’m the gardener) boiled them for a few minutes until they were tender and wilted. He then sautéed them in butter which also adds some sweetness to counteract the residual bitterness. I think they could also be dressed with olive oil and lemon, and we may try this next time. They have a slight bitter flavour which very quickly fades away.
As mineral accumulator, chicory is full of nutrients and therefore a valuable winter green when you are running out of other crops (as I am now, having harvested something green practically every day for the whole year).
But the best thing about all this was that deadheading became dinner. Waste not, want not.