Oregano is a mediterranean herb widely used around the world.
Oregano adds a pungent peppery flavor to fish, meat, and poultry dishes and harmonizes beautifully with eggplant, tomatoes, pizza or pasta. Mexican chilli and chilli powders count on oregano as an essential ingredient.
Oregano is the joy of the mountain, or so its name says in Greek. It is a plant similar to marjoram - oregano is know as wild marjoram - with a more pungent flavor and aroma. It belongs to the same family than mint and thyme.
There is Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano, which is even stronger and used in highly spiced dishes. Be cautious with oregano because of its pungent flavor.
How to Identify oregano
Oregano is a perennial bush that grows about 2 ft (60 cm) although the variety oreganum marjorana is cultivated as an annual. Oregano opens its white and pink small flowers in the middle of the summer. Leaves and top are used.
How to use and store
Fresh oregano is available in the countries where it is cultivated. Select lustrous green bunches that look crisp and do not show any sign of wilting or yellowing. Keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag, for up to 3 days. Dried oregano is usually in stock crumbled or ground, sometimes dried on stalks. Keep dried oregano in airtight containers in a cool, dark place and use within six months.
Experts say oregano is one herb that gains with drying.
Oregano is a must for pizza and pasta dishes. Its biting flavor complements meats and vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes or eggplant, also used with peppers. This herb enhances Mediterranean stews together with olives, garlic and red wine.
Cooking with oregano
Oregano goes well in tomato based dishes, either salads or cooked. It is often seen in the company of basil, as in this baked salmon with fresh herbs. There are many recipes with oregano.
If you need oregano for a recipe and don't have it, substitute 1 Tbs fresh oregano leaves with
- 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
- 1 Tbs fresh marjoram leaves
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
Other flavor, however, these herbs work where you would have used oregano.
- 1 Tbs fresh thyme
- 1 Tbs fresh sweet basil
- 1 Tbs fresh summer savory
- 1-2 tsp fresh sage
- 1 Tbs fresh parsley
- 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning –incorporates thyme and basil
- 1 tsp dried Greek seasoning –adds onion, garlic, mint, pepper and cinnamon
- 1 tsp herbes de Provence –adds thyme, bay leaf, savory flavor.
1 oz fresh oregano leaves = 1 cup chopped.
Create your own pizza and sprinkle oregano on top. Mix thick cream, anchovy stuffed olive, sliced, witth cooked tagliatelle and sprinkle dried oregano on top for a quick delicious meal.Try charcoal grilled lamb or pork, seasoned the Greek way with lemon and their strong rigani.
How to grow
Oregano requires warm, dry conditions and well-drained soil. It spreads by seed in spring, by cuttings or by root in autumn. Harvest bunches of flowers and leaves in the summer, dry under the sun around four days.
Oregano grows well in Mediterranean countries, Asia, North and Central America. It can be found in cooler regions of North America or European countries, such south England, where it grows with a milder quality.
Oregano - origanum vulgaris labiatae.
French - oregano.
German - oregano.
Italian - oregano.
Spanish - orégano.