The Aromatic Allure of Oregano: From Health Benefits to Culinary Wonders
The unsung heroes of the culinary world and the heart of any great dish is a masterful blend of herbs and spices.
Which herb is known for its robust and earthy character and whose name in Greek means “joy of the mountain”?
The Intriguing History of Oregano
This perennial herb is a member of the mint family.
It’s native to the Mediterranean region, is a prominent player in Greek cuisine, and has been used culturally and medicinally throughout history in addition to its prominent role in cooking.
Because oregano is a symbol of joy, it was often used in Greek and Roman times during weddings and other celebrations.
During weddings the happy young couple were often crowned with laurels of oregano to wish upon them happiness and peace.
Early explorers and colonizers brought oregano to the Americas.
But it was only upon the return of soldiers from World War II that the use of oregano exploded in the United States.
It was in Italy that these soldiers’ tastebuds first experienced the joy that oregano added to a slice of pizza.
And they craved that taste at home.
Oregano: A Powerhouse of Antioxidants
In addition to taste, one of oregano’s standout features is its antioxidant and antimicrobial richness.
Ancient Greek physician and philosopher, Hippocrates, who is often referred to as the father of modern medicine, used oregano as an antiseptic as well as a cure for a variety of ailments.
It turns out that Hippocrates was one smart dude.
Modern science confirms that oregano brims with disease-fighting compounds that help shield your body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
It’s also a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K and minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Oregano: A Culinary Powerhouse In the Kitchen
Whether you’re spicing up a pizza with a sprinkle of dried oregano or garnishing a Greek sandwich wrap, this versatile herb can elevate your meals from ordinary to extraordinary.
When using dried oregano, remember that its flavor is more concentrated than its fresh counterpart.
And as a rule of thumb use one-third the amount of dried oregano as you would fresh.
When cooking with herbs, fresh or dried, I always add them at the end of the cooking time or as a garnish.
Otherwise their flavor diminishes throughout the cooking process.
The next time you’re navigating your kitchen, bring some joy in the form of oregano.
It’s a flavorful addition to many dishes and a powerful health ally.
Try these delicious recipes that include oregano: