Cooking with Fresh Herbs: Greek Oregano

9 years ago

I've been writing a series of post on BlogHer about Cooking with Fresh Herbs, which has included cilantro, tarragon, parsley, mint, lovage, dill, basil, and chives so far. Today we're talking about Greek Oregano, which most cooks probably think of as the distinctive flavor in pizza sauce, and the category of herbs called oregano. Whenever a recipe calls for simply "oregano" it's probably using dried Greek Oregano, but actually there are several types of oregano, with slightly different flavors.

Before I start talking about oregano though, let me tell you where we're heading with this series. I'm still planning to cover rosemary, thyme, and sage, which I think are mostly used in fall and winter dishes. If there are other herbs people want to hear about, now's the time to speak up by leaving a comment on this post.

Let me start by admitting that oregano is not an herb I'm passionate about in the same way I love herbs like cilantro, basil, or tarragon. Still, even though it's something that's probably relegated to secondary status in my kitchen, fresh oregano is something I really enjoy in certain dishes. In my herb garden I have Greek Oregano and Italian Oregano, both of which grow like a weed with no care seemingly needed. Italian Oregano is actually a hybrid blend of Greek Oregano and Sweet Marjoram. It's milder and sweeter than Greek Oregano, but the leaves are smaller which makes it a bit more labor-intensive to use. Other hybrids include Sicilian Oregano and Turkish Oregano, but I think Greek Oregano and all its hybrid varieties are similar enough that they can pretty much be used interchangeably in Mediterranean dishes.

Greek Oregano plant
A completely different flavor comes from the plant called Mexican Oregano, also called Cuban Oregano or Spanish Thyme in some places. I've never grown this plant, but I do know that the dried version tastes very different than dried Greek Oregano, and it adds an interesting flavor to Spanish or Mexican dishes. However, because Greek Oregano is used in so many dishes, I'm going to focus on it in this post.

Oregano is somewhat unique in the herbal cooking world, sharing with thyme the fact that it's one of the few herbs which some cooks think is better dried than fresh. Certainly in tomato sauces or Greek-style salad dressing, dried Greek Oregano adds significant flavor. Because so many cooks use oregano dried, I'm going to include some links for recipes that use dried oregano in this piece. Now, let's see what great tasting things you can cook with oregano.

Salads with Greek Oregano:
Greek Salad with Fresh Oregano from Morsels and Musings
Greek Couscous Salad from Closet Cooking
Tomato Salad from Shazam in the Kitchen
Greek Salad Stuffed Cucumbers from Becky and the Beanstalk
Cabbage Salad with Lime and Fresh Oregano from Gluten-Free Bay

Potatoes Yiachni
Vegetables or Legumes with Greek Oregano:
Greek Lemon and Oregano Potatoes from More Than Burnt Toast
Greek Lima Bean Dip from Je Mange la Ville
Greek Lentil Soup from Alice Q. Foodie
Creamy Zucchini Soup with Fresh Oregano and Lemon from Lucullian Delights
Marrow Beans in Garlic, Olive Oil, Lemon, and Oregano from Christine Cooks
Potatoes Yiachni in Tomato Onion Sauce from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska (pictured above)

Meat or Seafood Dishes with Greek Oregano:
Pork Souvlaki from Kalofagas - Greek Food and Beyond
Greek Meatballs from Whipped
Greek Style Pork Chops from Market Manila
Greek Meatballs with Tzatziki from Nook and Pantry
Greek Style Chicken from The Leftover Queen
Greek Style Shrimp from Cookography
Chicken with Olives, Almonds, and Oregano from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Halibut with White Wine and Fresh Oregano from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

Potato Focaccia
Pizza, Sandwiches, or Bread with Greek Oregano:
Tomato, Feta, and Oregano Panini from Panini Happy
Potato Focaccia from The Wednesday Chef (pictured above)
Olive and Oregano Bread from Culinary Bazaar
Crockpot Pizza Soup from A Year of Crockpotting
Pizza Sauce from Tammy's Recipes

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes
Tomatoes with Greek Oregano:
Greek Stuffed Tomatoes from What's For Lunch Honey? (pictured above)
Broiled Tomatoes with Oregano from A Veggie Venture
Super Easy Tomato Sauce from Kochtopf
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup from Andrea's Recipes
My Own Meat Sauce from The Perfect Pantry
Pumpkin, Feta, and Tomato Tian from Limes and Lycopene
Tomato Rice with Feta Cheese from Greek Food Recipes and Reflections

You can see all the earlier herb posts in this series by clicking the tag Cooking with Fresh Herbs on any of the posts. If you have a favorite recipe using Greek Oregano, please share the link or your recipe in the comments.

Kalyn Denny writes about food and at BlogHer.com and shares her passion for cooking at Kalyn's Kitchen. She uses dried Greek Oregano for things like Grilled Lamb Cubes Cooked Greek Style, and fresh Greek Oregano for Greek Style Roasted Mushrooms.

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