Instead of just giving a recipe today, I thought I'd share one of my favorite herbs. I love oregano. It makes a great groundcover. The plants spread quickly (be warned!), grow easily in just about any soil, and are very attractive. I'm trying to encourage mine to choke out the grass. They grow about six inches and have tiny purple flowers when they bloom. When the oregano starts looking scruffy, we just mow it. Within a week, it's looking great again. So think about it for a moment - if I replace my lawn with oregano, it only needs mowed about three times a summer, it's very attractive (dark green with purple flowers, what's not to like?), smells heavenly, needs a lot less water, thrives well enough to choke out just about any weed, and I can cook with it. I'm all for an oregano lawn. It just isn't very kind to bare feet.
To prepare fresh oregano, simply pluck a few stems, rinse with water, then strip off the leaves to use. Discard the stems. If they are too tough, use a pair of scissors and snip them off. For some recipes, you can just wash the whole stem and use it. Discard before serving.
Oregano rice is one of my favorites. The flavor is subtle but so good with roast pork or chicken.
2 c. rice (long grain, short grain, brown, white, whatever you like, EXCEPT for instant. Follow the directions on the box if you are using that kind.)
4 c. hot water
1 t. salt
1 T. butter
3 stalks fresh oregano (for stronger flavor, pick stems that are blooming, leave the flowers on the stem)
Place everything in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-23 minutes for white rice, 40 - 50 minutes for brown. Don't lift the lid to check doneness until the time is just about up. Tip: when the water is mostly absorbed, test the rice by tasting a few grains. If they are still hard in the middle, cover and let them cook for 3 - 5 more minutes longer. When done, remove from heat. Tilt the lid to one side to let steam escape. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove oregano and serve.
Try using fresh oregano in tomato sauces or Italian dishes.
Fried Noodles (great for leftover noodles)
4 c. cooked macaroni, spaghetti, bowties, whatever you've got
1 T. butter
2 T. fresh oregano leaves
2 T. grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: chopped onion, green pepper, mushrooms
Melt butter in large skillet. Add noodles. Fry over high heat until noodles are crackling and just starting to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes. Toss with oregano and parmesan. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot. If adding vegetables, stir in with the noodles. You can also add cooked sausage, pepperoni, scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes, pretty much anything you'd order on a pizza.
Have fun with oregano!