Use Oregano For Authentic Italian Dishes
If your homemade pasta, spaghetti, or pizza seems to be missing that certain something, be sure to try Oregano to see if that is the missing ingredient. Oregano is not only a prominent spice for Italian-American cuisine, but is also used extensively in Turkish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Philippine dishes.
A Short History Of Oregano
Oregano has been used as a staple herb in Italian cuisine for over a hundred years. It is mostly favored in the Southern region of Italy, as the Northern region tends to depend more on marjoram. Audiences in the United States were introduced to oregano as World War II soldiers began to return from European tours. These soldiers brought with them the taste for the so-called “pizza herb”. American chefs quickly discovered that oregano could enhance the flavor of food even in the presence of other intense spices. They quickly developed combinations with other flavorful ingredients to develop variations on the modern taste of today’s Italian-American cuisine.
Other culinary uses for oregano include flavoring mutton and lamb. In Greece, oregano is used in conjunction with lemon-olive oil to provide a unique salad dressing. In the Philippines, not only is oregano used to flavor carabao (water buffalo) meat, but is added during cooking to mask the gamey odor.
Over 25 centuries ago, Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic. It was also useful as a cure for stomach and respiratory conditions. In modern times, it is still used in Greece as a soothing agent for a sore throat.
Although oregano is a powerful antioxidant, and has been show to limit microbial activity in certain strains of the pathogens found In certain types of food-borne poisoning, no proof exists of actual medical benefits. This has not stopped the use of oregano as a homeopathic remedy.
Oregano In The Kitchen
Oregano is generally available as so-called whole oregano or oregano leaves. The dried oregano is preferred over fresh because it becomes more flavorful. For use, the leaves can be sprinkled on a salad, or more often, crushed and added to other dishes. Oregano must always be added to taste because the intensity of the herb varies widely by the source.
Recipes Using Oregano
- 1/2 cup butter
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon oregano - dried
- 1 tablespoon parsley - dried
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes - crushed optional
- 36 clams scrubbed in shell
Using a large skillet, melt butter at medium. Briefly simmer the garlic in the butter, then pour in the wine. Use oregano, red pepper flakes and parsley to season.
Add clams to the skillet and cover. Let clams steam until all shells have opened. Serve in bowls with broth.
Spicy Oil and Vinegar Bread Dip
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons basil- dried
- 1 tablespoon oregano - dried
- 1 teaspoon thyme - dried
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt kosher
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper - freshly ground
Using a bottle that has a lid, mix the olive oil, with the balsamic vinegar, and add oregano, garlic, thyme, basil, kosher salt, and pepper. Seal bottle, and keep in refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight. Shake well before serving. Keep refrigerated for future use.
Greek Style Pizza
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise Preferably with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 cloves garlic - chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1 pre-baked pizza crust 10-in thin style
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano leaves
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 small red onion slice thinly
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese - grated
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Sprinkle crust with onion, spinach, and feta. Bake 5 minutes to melt cheese.
Using a small bowl, mix olive oil with mayonnaise, garlic, oregano and Parmesan. Spread mixture on pizza crust then add tomatoes. Continue baking until tomatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
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