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11 Sep 2006

Spicy, Aromatic Oregano

There are very few Mediterranean dishes that don't have the herb oregano (origanum vulgare) in their ingredients. Oregano is often called "wild majoram" and they are closely related. Native to Europe, where oregano has been used since ancient times, but only became popular in the U.S. after it was brought back by G.I.'s returning from duty in Italy during WW2.

Oregano is anti-bacterial and a potent anti-oxident. It is a very good source of iron, manganese and dietary fiber and is also a good source of calcium, vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, folate, copper and magnesium.

Fresh oregano is superior in flavor to the dried form. Being fairly easy to grow it is worth keeping a bush in your kitchen garden or potted and placed on a sunny window sill. If buying dried oregano check that it is organic and has not been irradiated.

If purchased fresh it can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days wrapped in a damp cloth. Oregano can also be frozen. As it turns bitter when cooked, add in the last few minutes of cooking. Fresh Oregano is wonderful with tomato dishes and salad, with eggplant and zuccini (baby marrows) and dried oregano is excellent added to salad dressings or scattered on garlic bread as well as in stews and soups.

You will really enjoy it's aromatic flavor.

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Recipes of the Day

Mediterranean Chickpeas
Vegan Outreach
from The Vegetarian Way

2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
juice of 2 lemons
salt & black pepper, to taste

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until the onions are tender. Add chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes, pepper flakes, and oregano. Cover and simmer for 30 min. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Vegan Greek Salad
Vegetarian Resource Group
Traditionally this dish would contain Feta cheese. Enjoy this vegan version!

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved, and cut in 1/4-inch slices
3-4 plum tomatoes
Small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 head thinly sliced green cabbage
1 washed, seeded, and sliced green bell pepper
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 tbsp Greek olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

Mix all the ingredients together in a salad bowl and serve. Serves 6.

Olives and Lentil Salad
Vegetarian Resource Group
Enjoy this delicious salad!

1 cup green lentils, rinsed and soaked for half hour
1/2 cup pitted oil cured black olives broken into pieces
Note: The only way to pit these wrinkled olives is by hand. Try rolling them
between your fingers with some pressure to break the pit from the flesh, which makes it easier to rip them apart.)
2 tbsps capers
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1 peeled and chopped garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped parsley
5 tbsps lemon juice or juice of one lemon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place drained lentils in a saucepan. Cover them with three inches of cold water. Bring lentils to a boil, cover the saucepan, and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain water and set lentils aside.
Mix together olive pieces, capers, oregano, garlic, parsley, and lentils. Mix lemon juice and olive oil into a dressing with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle on the salad. Serve with warm, crisp bread. Serves 4.

Bean Spread with Italian Herbs
FatFreeVegan
Submitted by: Courtney
(makes about 1 to 1&1/2 cups, or 3-4 servings--which is not very much at all! ;)
Double or triple the recipe at will--extras freeze well, although they will probably need a little flavor boosting when they're thawed.)

1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic (peeled but left whole)
1 small stalk celery, chopped fine
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp basil
1/2-3/4 tsp oregano
optional dash cayenne
1 cup cooked, mashed beans (black-eyed peas, white beans, or soybeans-- measure beans before mashing for stronger flavored spread, after mashing for milder)
1-2&1/2 tsp vinegar to taste (white vinegar is good here, or your favorite, or a combination of the two)
1/2 tsp salt
dash black pepper

Sauté the onion and the whole clove of garlic in sauté liquid (broth, water) on medium until the onion is soft. Add celery and green pepper and cook until the onion is transparent. Crush the garlic with a fork (in the pan, or remove from pan to smoosh it and then throw it right back in). Add tomato paste and herbs and simmer briefly. Remove from heat, and combine with the mashed beans. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

This is really yummy in sandwiches or on toast with sliced fresh tomatoes and other traditional sandwich veggies. And it's especially good with a little roasted garlic spread on the bread or toast as well!

Variations:
1. Italian Bean Spread with Roasted Garlic: Mix some roasted garlic into the finished spread to taste.
2.Zippy Bean Spread: Omit the basil from the basic recipe. When the onion is almost cooked, add 1/2 tsp cumin, a dash of cayenne, and an optional 1 tsp coriander.
3. Quick Bean Spread: Stir 1/4-1/2 cup flavorful tomato sauce into mashed beans, and correct for salt.
4. Bean Spread with Parsley: Omit the tomato paste and herbs. Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley to the onion and celery before you remove the pan from the heat. Add 1 tsp soy sauce and the juice of 1/2 of a lemon as you mix the veggies with the beans.

"Oregano is the spice of life." Henry J. Tillman

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7 comments:

Marion said...

Have you tried Oil of Oregano, Jackie?

It is the most amazing stuff...I haven't had any colds since I started using it. It is very potent...I take two drops a day, at the first sign of a cold, under my tongue. I do get tears in my eyes from it...it's strong!

There are too many advantages to list here, but I am very happy that I found it.

Jackie said...

I haven't tried it but after all I have heard about it lately it looks like I must get a bottle.

I eat a lot of oregano in my cooked and raw meals so maybe that's why I have only had flu once in 20 years and no colds at all.

bakehouse dori said...

The italian bean spread from ff vegan, sure looks great. I want to try that one soon.

Raw oregano boosts the immune system? I have a flourishing oregano plant in my yard. I haven't done alot with it... I should start leanring how touse it up.

Chandira said...

I've been prescribed oil of oregano by my naturopath before now. You can get tablets, too, which are nicer than a drop under the tongue! Ick

Apparently very good for things like yeast infections, Candida, etc. which was a big thing for me in my 20's.

The Artist said...

What beautiful food, love coming here, always get inspired to try something new. Made some of your special lemonade using apples, lemons and honey for my guests the other day and they were full of praise, best wishes, The Artist

kleo2 said...

Oregano has been my fave spice forever! I have had to be careful not to use it in overkill... Thank you for the great info on this wonderful addition to so many great foods. It's truly something i shall never be w/out in my condiment cabinet!

El Charolastra said...

word. i likes!