The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor of oregano makes it the perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. This popular herb whose name means “mountain joy” is available throughout the year.
Oregano is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. It is a small shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers. In Mediterranean climates oregano grows as a perennial plant, but in the harsher climates of North America, they grow as annuals.
You may have seen a bottle marked “oil of oregano” in a health food store. There are good reasons why!
Oregano is native to northern Europe, although it grows throughout many regions of the world. It has been recognized for its aromatic properties since ancient times, with the Greeks and Romans holding oregano as a symbol of joy and happiness. In fact, it was a tradition for Greek and Roman brides and grooms to be crowned with a laurel of oregano.
Oregano has been cultivated in France since the Middle Ages and has come to be an important herb in Mediterranean cooking. Oregano was hardly known in the United States until the early 20th century when GIs returning from Italy brought word of this fragrant and delicious herb back to the United States.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, garnish it with some fresh oregano.
- Oregano goes great with healthy sautéed mushrooms and onions.
- Adding a few sprigs of fresh oregano to a container of olive oil will infuse the oil with the essence of the herb.
- Fresh oregano makes an aromatic addition to omelets and frittatas.
- Sprinkle some chopped oregano onto homemade garlic bread.
- Add oregano to salad dressings.
Reference: WHFoods (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=73)