Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Joy of the Mountain

Oregano became popular in the states after WWII...before that it was know by it's Spanish name marjoram and was not a staple in the kitchen. Veterans who had been stationed in Italy brought back news of a wonderful dish called pizza and urged their mothers and wives to seek out this delicious herb.

Oregano, a member of the mint family, is originally from the Mediterranean and while not originally popular with US cooks it was brought to the new world early on and has a place in many Latin American dishes. The name oregano comes from the Greek orus (mountain) and ganus (joy)... and it truly is a joy that comes from the hillsides of the Mediterranean. It has been known by many names: wild marjoram, winter sweet, organy, and even Mexican sage.

In addition to it's culinary applications oregano has also been valued as a medicinal herb. Throughout history it has been prescribed for digestive woes, scorpion stings, visual impairment, and even as a tonic to cleanse the brain. I don't know about all that... but what I do know is that it grows well in my garden and really adds flavor to tomato sauces and salads.

Here is a recipe for a Greek style salad that I whipped up this week with the girls:

First we collected together the main ingredients: 1 cucumber (sliced), one large tomato (chopped), one jar or can of black olives (without pits...sliced or in this case slightly mangled), one small onion, a handful of radishes (sliced), a generous handful of oregano (minced), a couple of lemons, salt & pepper (to taste), feta cheese, and a generous drizzling of olive oil. When your ready to put it together just put your little ones to work cutting up the olives... this works well because there is no need for a sharp knife to get the job done. Then I chopped up the rest of the veggies (most importantly the oregano) and then dressed it all with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. I put the feta cheese on the side so that the leftovers would last longer in the fridge.


All smudge marks in the top right hand corner of the photos are courtesy of a broken lense cap cover and my darling daughter L.
All this wonderful information about oregano comes from "The Spice Cookbook" by Avanelle Day and Lillie Stuckley


  1. Holy hotcakes, I learned something today... All this time I thought Marjoram and oregano were two different things!!! Who woulda thunk!
    ...Now, how many fat calories are in that recipe and what are the chances I can get my hubs to eat it... hmmm. I'm thinking he'll require a substitute of the olive oil & juice for beer :o

  2. @Misty- It is a bit confusing they aren't exactly the same thing... they are varieties in the same family. So if you buy it today and it is labled marjoram isn't oregano... but in the past oregano was labled as marjoram. Does that make sense?

  3. You're lucky to have oregano growing in ur garden, i have to go to supermarket to get it,lol. The salad looks good, never tried salad with cheese though....

  4. That salad looks fabulous! I can almost taste it right now. Oregano is one of my favorite herbs to cook with. I confess I don't like to cook much, but I can follow a recipe fairly well.

  5. I so did not know Oregano and Marjoram were the same

  6. Yummy! I love a good Greek salad. Yours looks delicious. (Currently, I'm hungry.)

  7. Hi there! I am your newest follower from the Thursday linky!! I love finding new blogs and yours is lovely:) You can find me at

  8. I love that you let the kiddos chop the olives- how clever! Oregano is so yummy! Sometimes, I add those little flecks of yummy goodness and I feel like a real, professional, fancy chef...haha!

  9. You remind me of Alton Brown :) I love learning about cooking and stuff!



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