Ingredient Focus: Fresh Oregano

You can pretty much tell if any Dominican is cooking when the smell of oregano fills the air. A staple of Caribbean cuisine, where it grows in backyards and farms of Dominican Republic, oregano is an aromatic herb that infuses every meal with great flavor. Not only is it tasty, it also holds many health benefits:

  1. Fresh oregano has four times the antioxidant (by weight) than blueberries
  2. Rich, natural source of Vitamin K, which plays a large role in our cardiovascular and bone health
  3. High source of fiber, which clings to toxins and removes them from your body
  4. Leaves and flowers of the oregano plant are known to have antiseptic, carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, and diaphoretic qualities
  5. Excellent source of Vitamin C, helping against infectious diseases, as well as  the common cold

One of the simplest ways to prepare fresh oregano is by making a salad dressing, which involves no heat. When cooking with fresh oregano, use it close to the end of the preparation of the dish when heating, in order to keep all nutritional value intact (heat tends to deteriorate nutrients in herbs and spices).  Using a 3:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio, muddle fresh oregano leaves and whisk into the dressing. Serve over avocado slices, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella slices or even as a raw sauce for steak.

Photos: Marnely Rodriguez