Oregano

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Oregano is a hardy perennial herb that is closely related to marjoram. Its name is derived from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos(joy), and it was a symbol of happiness in Europe. It was tradition in Greek and Roman marriage ceremonies for the bride and groom to be crowned with laurels of oregano.

Health Benefits
Oregano is very high in antioxidants, and its volatile oil contains thymol and carvacrol, two powerful antimicrobial agents. A clinical study in Mexico compared oregano to tinidazole, a commonly used prescription drug to treat Giardia infections (an amoeba sometimes found in untreated water that can cause severe gastric distress). The researchers found oregano to be more effective against Giardia than the prescription drug. Oregano has also been shown to inhibit the bacteria that are often the cause of impetigo (an infection of the skin).

Uses
Fresh oregano can be stored in the fridge wrapped in a slightly damp towel. It can also be frozen to use later. It is recommended to use oregano toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily destroy their aromatic oils and delicate flavores. Ideas include:

  • As an ingredient in tomato sauce for pizza or pastas or as a garnish for pizza
  • Combines well with garlic, onion, thyme, and basil
  • Sauteed with mushrooms and onions
  • Served in omelets and frittatas
  • Minced and added to salad dressings

Recipes

Grilled Yellow Squash & Zucchini Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces farfalle (bowtie) pasta
  • 1 pound yellow summer (crookneck) squash, cut into 1-in. chunks
  • 1 pound zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-in. chunks
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • About 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives

Preparation

1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender to the bite, 9 to 12 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until completely cool (see Notes).

2. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium heat (you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds). Thread squash and zucchini chunks onto 10- to 12-in. metal skewers and place on a baking sheet. Brush vegetables with 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil on all sides and sprinkle with salt to taste. Transfer to grill and cook 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, or until vegetables are very tender.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining olive oil, the vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a small bowl.

4. With a fork, push vegetables off skewers back onto baking sheet and toss them in oil left there. In a large bowl, toss together pasta, vegetables, oregano, pine nuts, and olives. Add dressing and salt and pepper to taste; toss. Serve warm or cold.

Note:

Ingredients can be prepped and pasta cooked a day ahead of time and chilled (add 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil to the cooked pasta). Toss everything together just before serving.


Grilled Trout with Oregano

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 whole trout (about 12 ounces each), cleaned and scaled

FOR THE SEASONING:

  • 1 lemon, sliced into 8 rounds, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish
  • 1 large bunch fresh oregano

FOR THE GARNISH:

  • 1 lemon, sliced into 8 rounds, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish
  • 1 large bunch fresh oregano
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. STEP 1

    Lightly coat grill or broiler pan with cooking spray; heat grill or broiler. Sprinkle exterior and cavity of each fish with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and season with pepper. Place two lemon rounds and a few oregano sprigs in cavity of each fish.

  2. STEP 2

    Spray fish with cooking spray; place on grill or under broiler. Cook until golden and firm, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to serving platter; drizzle each fish with 1 teaspoon oil. Garnish with lemon wedges and remaining oregano.


Grilled Tomatoes with Oregano & Lemon

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 large tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

STEP 1

Heat a grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Halve tomatoes crosswise and brush cut sides with 2 tablespoons oil. Place, cut side down, on grill. Grill until lightly charred, about 4 minutes. With a metal spatula, flip tomatoes and grill until skins blister and begin to char, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a serving platter, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oregano-lemon oil. Serve tomatoes warm or at room temperature.


Blackberry-Oregano Pie

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

CRUST:

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons coarse salt

3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup ice water

FILLING:

7 cups blackberries (about 2 pounds)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1/4 cup cornstarch

Pinch of coarse salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

STEP 1

Crust: Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining. Add ice water; pulse until dough just starts to come together. Divide dough into thirds, pat into disks, and wrap each in plastic; refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

STEP 2

Let dough stand at room temperature until pliable. Roll out 1 disk on a lightly floured surface to an 11-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim overhang to just beyond rim of pie plate; tuck under to create a neat edge all around. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

STEP 3

Meanwhile, roll out remaining 2 disks of dough to just under 1/4 inch thick; freeze on 2 baking sheets until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a 1-inch fluted cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible from sheets of dough (rerolling and cutting out scraps once). Return cutouts to freezer.

STEP 4

Filling: Toss blackberries with lemon juice, granulated sugar, oregano, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Transfer to piecrust. Brush edge of piecrust with beaten egg and arrange overlapping rounds of dough on top of edge. Continue overlapping rounds to cover entire top. Freeze 1 hour.

STEP 5

Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in lower third and a baking sheet on rack below. Brush entire top of pie with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to bake until juices are bubbling near center (if browning too quickly, tent top or edge with foil), about 1 hour more. Let cool completely, at least 6 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream.