Welcome to the LWTM – ‘Cooking with herbs’ blog series
In this blog series you will find historical information and recipes about the most commonly used kitchen herbs. They do not only add flavour, but they also make a positive impact on our health and well-being. To find out more about other kitchen herbs, please type ‘cooking with herbs’ into the search box.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
This popular kitchen herb grows in the Mediterranean region. It is practically synomonous with the Italian kitchen, a pizza or pasta sauce without oregano does not taste the same. But it is also common place in the Turkish, Lebanese and other Mediterranean cuisines and it apart from Pizza it is also found in meat dishes and salads.
It is part of the mint family and grows from 20 to 80cm tall, has purple flowers and olive-green leaves. In colder climates Oregano needs to be grown under glass, as it does not survive a harsh winter.
When you want to use oregano in the kitchen, you need to use it as a dried herb, because the dried oregano has an aromatic, herby and slightly tangy taste and is much more potent than used as a fresh herb.
History: As far back as 400 B.C. the Ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates already used oregano as an antiseptic and as cure for an upset stomach and problems with the respiratory system. Tests later revealed that oregano has antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tea for nervous disorders and gastric problems.
But oregano is not only used as kitchen herb. Oregano oil has also health benefits, to find out more, please read this article from the Huffington Post.
Here are a few recipes for cooking with oregano
Olive, onion and oregano bread:
Ingredients: 1 large onion (finely chopped), 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 cups of bread flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt, 1 cup of low-fat buttermilk,2 tbsp. melted butter, 2 egg whites, ¼ cup of chopped, pitted Kalamata olives (or any other olives), 1 tsp. of dried oregano.
- Pre-heat oven to around 180 degrees C, then heat the some butter in a pan and add the chopped onions and cook them until brown.
- In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and oregano. Then make a dent in the middle. In a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk, butter, egg whites and oregano. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dent of the flour mixture and knead the mixture until you have a bread dough.
- Finally fold in the browned onions and chopped olives and fill the dough into a well-oiled bread tin.
- Bake for around 40minutes in the middle of the oven and leave to cool for another 10 minutes.
- Once cooled, release the bread. You can either eat it fresh or for more convenience, cut it into slices and keep them in the freezer.
Ingredients for the dough: 250g of plain flour, ½ pack of dried yeast, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. of dried oregano, a small glass of lukewarm water.
- Add all the ingredients (except the water) into a large bowl and then add half of the water. Mix all the ingredients with your hands (please wash them before use!) to achieve a coherent dough. From time to time, add a bit more water until the mixture has become a gooey, solid dough. If you have added too much water, correct the consistency of the dough by adding more flour.
- Form a neat dough ball and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Leave the dough to rest and rise (at least 2 hours).
- Once the dough has risen, pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
- Then take out 2 large cooking trays and add a few drops of oil that you can spread evenly all over the tray.
- Place the dough ball into the middle of the cooking tray and the slowly spread it outwards with your hands until you have an even thin dough base (there should be more dough on the outside to form a crust).
- Add a couple of tablespoons of tomato passata (pureed tomatoes) and garnish with your favorite ingredients. These can include ham, onions, tuna, prawns, pepperoni, artichokes and even Bolognaise sauce. Top with Morzarella strips and finally add another few pinches of oregano and olive oil.
- Bake in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes and you have made your first home-made pizza!
I make this recipe regularly for my whole family and everybody has their own strip with their own favourite toppings. You can also make a few smaller, round pizzas and your children can then add their toppings of their own choice.