Oregano is a supreme example of how God makes medicine available so easily right in front of us. Here in America, even in the Northwest, Wild Marjoram (Garden) and Greek Oregano are hardy perennials. We gardeners have a hard time keeping them under control! But , besides their great taste alone or complimenting a myriad of dishes and drinks, they are a staple for making the body work at it’s optimum, including keeping and helping rid it of all sorts of “bugs”.
The History of Oregano
The generic name for all the of Origanum species comes from the Greek oros ganos “joy of the mountain”, because of its cheerful look and great aroma covering the Greek hillsides. Oregano and olive oil was rubbed on sprains and rheumatic joints. Wild Marjoram and many of the Origanum species were popular strewing herbs in the Middle Ages. When Oregano was introduced to North America, the tea became a traditional remedy for bronchitis and asthma.
Wellness uses of Oregano
Gerard said wild marjoram was best used for “over much sighing” while Culpeper found it a tonic for the brain and head also, ruled by Mercury under Aries. Oregano is also known as useful for stomach upsets. Did you Know? One teaspoon dried Oregano has as much antioxidants as three cups of spinach! The “pizza herb” is well known as an anti-viral and anti-fungal. It can also be used to treat fungal infections, internally or externally. Oregano has also been found to soothe bee stings or snake bites. Oregano can help strengthen the immune system.
Culinary Uses for Oregano
As a culinary herb, Oregano is used dry. Italian Oregano is peppery and pungent. The more north it is cultivated, the milder the flavor. It is the main flavor characteristic of Italian pizza and pastas.
In much Mediterranean dishes, especially those with beans and tomatoes, Oregano gives a rich strong flavor. It is also a companion herb for many beef dishes.
Here’s a recipe for Vegetarians on the grill:
Spicy Grilled Potato Salad
- 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped capers
- 1/2 teaspoon red Chile flakes
- 2 teaspoons minced oil-packed anchovies
- 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured olives
- 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Heat grill to medium (350° to 450°) with an area left unheated for indirect heat. Toss potatoes in 1 tbsp. oil; grill flat side down until marks appear, 8 minutes. Turn over, moving to indirect area. Cook until tender, 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut into chunks.
- Whisk remaining 3 tbsp. oil, mustard, vinegar, oregano, capers, chile flakes, and anchovies in a large bowl. Gently mix in remaining ingredients.
Here’s a recipe for grilling meats with fresh Oregano:
Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Garlic, and Oregano –serves 16 1 1/4 hr. (use on fish too!)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup ﬁnely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (plus 1 and 1/2 for meat)
- 1/2 teaspoons black pepper (plus 1 and 1/2 for meat)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 12 whole chicken legs (7 lb) and 8 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (8 lb)
- 5 lemons, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
(The first six ingredients can be used as a sauce by itself for many meats and veggies)
Whisk together lemon juice, oregano, garlic, 1/2 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and add oil in a slow stream, whisking. Discard excess fat from chicken and season with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.
To cook chicken using a charcoal grill: Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney starter of charcoal briquettes (80 to 100) and pour them evenly over 1 side of bottom rack (you will have a double or triple layer of briquettes). When charcoal turns grayish white (15 to 20 minutes) and you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds, sear chicken legs in 3 batches on lightly oiled grill rack over coals, uncovered, turning once, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total, then transfer as cooked to a tray. Put all browned legs on side of grill with no coals underneath and cook, covered with lid, turning occasionally, until just cooked through (ﬂesh will no longer be pink when cut near joint), 15 to 25 minutes more. Transfer legs to bowl with lemon dressing and turn to coat, then transfer to a serving platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil, while cooking breasts. Add 15 briquettes evenly to coals and wait until they just light, about 5 minutes. (They will not be grayish white yet but will give off enough heat with other briquettes to maintain correct cooking temperature.) Sear chicken breasts, starting with skin sides down, in 2 batches on rack over coals, uncovered, turning once, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total, then transfer as cooked to tray. Put all browned chicken breasts on side of grill with no coals underneath and cook, covered with lid, turning occasionally, until just cooked through (the meat next to the tender, when opened slightly, will be moist but no longer pink), 12 to 15 minutes more. Transfer breasts to bowl with lemon dressing and turn to coat, then transfer to platter with legs. Grill lemon slices on rack over coals, uncovered, until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes on each side, and transfer to platter with chicken.
To cook chicken using a gas grill: Preheat all burners on high, then adjust heat to moderately high. Turn off 1 burner and arrange chicken legs on lightly oiled rack above it. Cook, covered with lid, turning legs once, until cooked through, about 40 minutes total. Transfer legs to bowl with lemon dressing and turn to coat, then transfer to a serving platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil, while cooking breasts. Cook chicken breasts on rack above unlit burner, covered with lid, turning once, until just cooked through (the meat next to the tender, when opened slightly, will be moist but no longer pink), about 30 minutes total. Transfer breasts to bowl with lemon dressing and turn to coat, then transfer to platter with legs. Grill lemon slices on rack over ﬂames, uncovered, until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes on each side, and transfer to platter with chicken.
Other pairings for Oregano
Venison, Chicken, Shrimp, Lobster, Peas, Pumpkin, Squash, Italian pasta, Beans (all kinds), Tomatoes
Use Greek Oregano for a spicier “Italian” flavor and Garden (Wild Marjoram) for a milder sweeter “English” flavor and eat often for a healthier immune system, gut health and fighting off “bugs”! Enjoy!