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Oregano: The Sweet and Spicy Herb

Oregano

It’s hard not to enjoy the yummy sweet and spicy herb that goes on our pasta, pizza, and salad. Oregano is such a staple “must use” herb when it comes to most Italian foods that we wouldn’t dare be without it.  

History Of Oregano

You would think that since this herb is added to Italian cuisines and dishes it must have originated from the same place, but you’d be wrong. Oregano first originated in Greece. It is derived from a Greek word that means “joy of the mountain”.

Oregano has long been associated with deliciousness. The Ancient Greeks held the belief that cows that consumed oregano leaves produced tastier meat than those cows that did not. In addition to its gustatory quality, oregano also held a mythic quality: the Greeks believed the Goddess Aphrodite created this herb.

Image Credit: Flickr user Joi ( CC BY 2.0 )

After the Greeks, the Romans started cultivating oregano because they liked the taste of it and then slowly it spread to China where it was used for medicinal purposes. Many centuries later, American soldiers discovered this herb during the Italian campaign during World War II and then brought it back to the United States.   

Appearance Of Oregano

Oregano leaves are not very difficult to identify. They have hairy and coarse leaves. They are also slightly oval in shape. Oregano leaves are bright green in color. You will also be able to identify it due to its intensely aromatic fragrance.Oregano powder is yellowish-green in color. The dried leaves feel coarse to the touch. 

Image Credit: ariesa66 from Pixabay 

Flavor Of Oregano

Oregano has a very sweet and spicy flavor to it. For this reason it elevates the flavor of dishes. Various spices like black pepper, salt, basil, rosemary, garlic powder, and chili powder pair perfectly with oregano to give an extra kick of flavor. 

Health Benefits Of Oregano

Oregano is rich in antioxidants that reduce free radicals in the body. It also has antibacterial properties where it is known to be effective against 23 different types of bacteria that exist. Oregano is also good for viral infections and even cancer prevention to some extent. It is even good for your intestines and gut health.

Image Credit: Jörg Husemann from Pixabay 

Culinary Benefits Of Oregano

People usually think that oregano just goes well with pizza and pasta but these are not the only items it goes well with! There are so many delicious recipes you can create with this wonderful herb.

You definitely have to try the oregano chicken with Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, butter, and some baked vegetables with steamed rice. This is a perfect lunch or dinner recipe that will keep you full for many hours. 

Take a look at this amazing Peruvian chicken recipe that utilizes aromatic oregano. This is a family friendly dish you can enjoy with a delicious side of green sauce. 

Try making some lemon and oregano or garlic and oregano pesto. The minty, sweet, and spicy flavors that this sauce brings are mouth-watering! You can also try your hands at a delicious chimichurri sauce.

You can also make a fresh oregano salad with some white onions, lemon juice, fresh oregano leaves, and some salt. It is a fun gluten-free and vegan salad with all yumminess in a bowl!

If you want a protein-rich chicken salad, we suggest our recipe for Chicken and Greek Potato Salad for you!

Another tasty dish to make is to add oregano powder to your zucchinis with pizza sauce, red onions, salt, pepper, and olives and bake it. Serve this dish with some fresh basil leaves and you’re good to go!

Looking for a new way to enjoy oregano? Prepare a cup of oregano tea with some fresh sprigs of oregano, Greek honey, and water and start your day refreshed and fully charged! The fresh oregano has an herbaceous quality similar to mint. 

Storage

Oregano leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for around 3 days. If you put them in a damp paper towel in a bag, they will last up to 2-3 weeks. 

You can store oregano powder or dried oregano in glass or in airtight containers at room temperature in your pantry. You can use dried oregano stored properly for about 6 months. 

Feature Image: Flickr user wuestenigel ( CC BY 2.0 )

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