Useful information on oregano and ideas on how to use in cooking.
Oregano is a herb that is particularly popular in Italian cooking, where it can be added to almost every dish possible.
It was originally found growing in Asia, but is now widely cultivated in Europe. It is very closely related to sweet marjoram, which is why many people know oregano to be otherwise named wild marjoram.
History of oregano
Oregano or wild marjoram has not been around for as long as some of the other popular herbs, and before becoming a favourite ingredient in a number of European cuisines, oregano was traditionally used in the Middle Ages as a medicine, primarily to treat coughs and colds and to aid digestion.
Vitamin and mineral content of oregano
All herbs contain a number of vitamins and minerals and oregano is no exception. It is a particularly good source of iron, manganese and Vitamin K, as well as Vitamins A and C and calcium.
Health benefits of oregano
Oregano is well known for its digestive properties and therefore is it useful to combine with foods that are difficult to digest or that give wind, for example pulses, beans, salad vegetables and members of the cabbage family (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnip and kale).
Other health benefits of oregano include:
- Oregano can aid insomnia.
- It can relieve migraines.
- It helps clear coughs, colds and symptoms of flu.
- It is good for mouth disorders, particularly inflamed gums and a sore throat.
- It can aid the release of mucous from the lungs.
- It has been said to strengthen the stomach and increase appetite.
- It has been proven to act as a very good antioxidant, even better than apples, blueberries and citrus fruits.
Buying and storing oregano
Fresh oregano can be bought from your local supermarket and will last for several days in the refrigerator.
It should be stored in a plastic bag if already chopped and wrapped in a damp paper towel.
Oregano is one of the herbs that dry really well, retaining its flavour, as well as all of the nutrients.
Ideas for cooking with oregano
If you are preparing any Italian or Greek style dishes, always add a sprinkling of oregano, which will give a delicious, strong herby flavour. Other ideas are:
- Sprinkle on top of your favourite pizza.
- Add to all Italian pasta sauces, such as bolognaise.
- Add to a tomato, onion and olive oil salad.
- Add to Greek salad.
- Sprinkle on top of poultry, meat and fish before roasting.
- Use in stuffing.
- Add to stir-fries during cooking.
- Sprinkle over roasting vegetables.
- Add to lentils, beans and other pulses to aid digestion.
- Sprinkle onto garlic bread.
- Add to omelettes.
- Add to salad dressings.
- Include in marinades.
- Add to homemade beef burger or meatball mixtures.
A collection of recipes that use fresh oregano including beef and onion stew, carrot and oregano salad and spaghetti with anchovy and pesto sauce.
Carrot and Oregano Salad
This is a refreshing salad for a hot summer's day, although there is nothing stopping you from enjoying it all year round. Half of the carrot may be substituted for celeriac or swede.
- 1 lb (450 g) of fresh carrots
- 4 tbsp of sunflower oil
- 2 tbsp of finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp of light brown sugar
- 1 tsp of sesame oil
- juice of ½ a lemon
- grated zest of ½ a lemon
- salt and pepper
- Wash the carrots, remove both ends, peel and grate them into a large mixing bowl.
- Add the sunflower and sesame oils, lemon rind, brown sugar and 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
- Stir in the fresh oregano and season with salt and pepper. If necessary add more lemon juice.
- Leave the salad to stand for an hour before serving.
Spaghetti with Anchovy and Pesto Sauce
This exciting pasta dish can be prepared in minutes and is delicious. You can buy pesto sauce from the supermarket or why don't you try preparing some of our homemade pesto sauce
- 1 lb (450 g) of spaghetti
- 3 fl oz (85 ml) of olive oil
- 3 oz (85 g) of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 can of anchovy fillets
- 2 oz (55 g) of pesto sauce
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp of finely chopped fresh oregano
- salt and pepper
- Heat all of the olive oil except for 1 tbsp in a saucepan.
- Add the crushed garlic and fry for several minutes stirring frequently.
- Add the anchovy fillets and reduce the heat slightly. Stir the anchovies into the garlic and oil and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes.
- In a separate and larger saucepan, fill the pan with enough water to cook the pasta, add a pinch of salt and the remaining tbsp of olive oil and bring the water to the boil.
- Add the spaghetti and cook for 8 - 10 minutes depending on your taste and the thickness of the spaghetti.
- Whilst the spaghetti is cooking, go back to the sauce and add the pesto and the freshly chopped oregano. Stir all of the ingredients together.
- Season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Once the spaghetti has cooked to al dente, drain the water and serve onto warmed plates.
- Spoon the anchovy and pesto sauce over the pasta and finally sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.
Beef and Onion Stew
The beef is tender from hours of slow cooking and is flavoured with red wine, oranges, onions, mushrooms and fresh oregano. Serve with boiled rice and green beans.
- 1 lb 5 oz (600 g) of stewing steak
- 8 oz (225 g) of baby onions
- 8 oz (225 g) of fresh plum tomatoes
- ½ pint (300 ml) of beef stock
- ¼ pint (150 ml) of red wine
- 1 oz (30 g) of porcini mushrooms
- ½ oz (15 g) of butter
- 1 orange
- 4 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan. Whilst the oil is heating chop the baby onions in half.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook gently for five minutes until they have browned slightly.
- Remove the onions from the pan and set aside in a warm place.
- Cut the steak into small chunks and add to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until the meat has browned well.
- Return the onions back to the frying pan with the steak and then add the beef stock, red wine and sugar. Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon.
- Transfer the beef mixture to a casserole dish.
- Carefully peel the orange and cut the rind into very thin strips.
- Cut the orange fruit into thin rings.
- Add the orange rind and the fruit to the casserole dish with the steak and stir in.
- Place the casserole dish in the oven and cook for 1¼ hour.
- Whilst the casserole is cooking, pour 4 tbsp of warm water into a medium sized bowl and add the porcini mushrooms. Leave them to soak for 30 minutes.
- Remove the skin from the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Add to the casserole along with the mushrooms and the chopped oregano.
- Return to the oven and cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes. The beef should be tender and the juices will have thickened.
- Remove from the oven and serve with boiled rice and steamed green beans.