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Cooking with Oregano

Oregano is a savory spice not usually used in sweet dishes. Some describe the smell as pungent and the taste as strong. It is one of the few herbs or spices the flavor of which is stronger dried than fresh. It is most commonly associated with Italian dishes, and it came to popularity in the United States primarily because of its association with pizza, when that craze first hit the country just after World War II.

Oregano is usually purchased dried in spice jars at the grocery store. However, some groceries have begun to sell it fresh. When buying it fresh, be sure to check that it is not wilting. To store fresh oregano, put it in a plastic bag filled with air and place in the crisper of the refrigerator. When using fresh oregano, you will probably need to use three times as much to achieve the same intensity of flavor.

Mexican oregano, is not true oregano, but is actually a distantly related plant with similar flavors. It is generally used dried (not fresh) as leaves or in a powdered form. Many describe the flavor as stronger than common oregano, but slightly sweeter. It is also known as Mexican marjoram or Mexican wild sage.

Dried or fresh, oregano is a spice that can easily be over-done. Take care in its application, especially when concocting your own dishes without consulting a cookbook. If you like inventing dishes, you will find this spice goes well with tomato sauces, lamb, cruciform vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc), as well as zucchini and of course about any pizza.

Other spices that go with oregano are garlic, parsley, sage, thyme, pepper, basil, and dried onions.

We have gathered a few recipes in which oregano plays a prominent part:
Green Beans with Oregano
Oregano Chicken
Italian Oregano Chicken Soup
Simple Oregano Pizza Sauce

Next Page: Green Beans with Oregano Recipe


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