Ingredient Spotlight: Fresh Oregano

By: Marnely Rodriguez

She starts every meal by sauteing fresh Oregano in olive oil. Every lunch, every dinner; whether it's chicken breast or eggplant parmesan, you'll know my Mother 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 your meals with great flavor. It's also a great source of health benefits, such as:

  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

Marnely Rodriguez, author of the food blog, Cooking with Books. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, has worked as an Overnight Bread Baker in Colorado, a Chocolate Maker in Virginia as well as a Pastry Cook on the whimsical island of Martha's Vineyard, just to name a few. Currently residing in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where she is an endless search for Caribbean flavors, tropical fruits and gastronomic inspiration. Follow her on Twitter: @nella22