Greek & Italian Oregano
Oregano is a traditional Mediterranean herb and plays a prominent role in Greek and Italian cuisine. Greek oregano tends to be the most savory and earthy, while Italian is milder. Pair fresh and dried oregano with cured olives, sheep's milk cheeses, tomatoes, pork, lamb, potatoes, pasta and rices. It is an ideal aromatic for meat stews and can compliment olive oil sauces for grilled and baked fish. Keep cool and dry until ready to use.
Syrian oregano is a perennial variety of oregano that grows upright and can reach heights of between 2 ½ and 4 feet tall. Small, heart-shaped leaves are pale green in color with a velvety texture making them look almost gray. Syrian oregano stems bloom in the summer with small, two-lipped white flowers growing in clusters. The small flower buds, just before they open, have a very concentrated flavor. Syrian oregano is the most aromatic of the oregano varieties. The flavor of Syrian oregano is similar to a combination of Greek oregano, marjoram and thyme.
This oregano variety can be used fresh, as is the case with younger leaves and flower buds, and it can be dried and powdered. The scent and flavor are strong, so keep that in mind when using Syrian oregano. The herb is most often paired with other herbs in rubs and seasoning blends. In the Middle East, the herb is combined with other herbs, such as thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds, and mixed with olive oil and spread onto bread. It can be spread on dough before the bread is cooked, sealing the flavor into the finished loaf. Use whole Syrian oregano leaves in sauces and soups, or chop and add to vegetable dishes. Syrian oregano is often used as a rub for roasts or chicken. Use Syrian oregano flower buds as a garnish for soups and quiches. Syrian oregano will keep for up to a week when refrigerated in plastic.
Mexican oregano is a flowering, leafy herb that grows like a shrub, reaching almost four feet in height and width. Mexican oregano leaves are arrow-shaped and grow sparingly along thin, stiff stems. In the summer, white flowers bloom at the ends of the long stems. The leaves and flowers of Mexican oregano are pungent, with the traditional scent and flavor of Mediterranean oregano with notes of citrus and mild licorice. The flavor is a bit more intense than the Mediterranean variety, and contains different phytochemical compounds, giving it a different flavor profile.
This herb is used widely in Mexican and Central American cuisine and can be used both fresh and dry. The flavor is intense enough to hold up to the strong flavors of chiles, cumin, and paprika, where the Mediterranean variety may be masked. It pairs well with other herbs like basil, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Add Mexican oregano to traditional soups like berria and posole and other traditional sauces like moles and rojas. Add the herb to bean dishes, burritos, and enchiladas. The strong flavor of the herb pairs well with fish, pork, salsas, and tomato based sauces. The leaves and flowers of Mexican oregano can be dried to preserve and retain their flavor, and will keep for up to three months. Keep fresh Mexican oregano wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator for up to a week.
on the blog...
Using herbs and spices while you cook creates exciting flavors and opportunities for experimenting. Growing fresh herbs in your kitchen is not only more fun, it makes them convenient to use and adds beauty to your home to boot!
A delicious recipe from "Hors d’oeuvres From the Garden" event with Chef Gayle Somers of home/made kitchen cafe & bakery. Keep reading for the recipes so you can recreate these culinary creations!
We love this chimichurri sauce as a marinade on the BBQ. Made with fresh parsley and oregano, this easy recipe is a perfect addition to your next cookout!