Oregano is a must use Greek herb in the Mediterranean cuisine. And Greeks are definitely crazy about it; the secret of the Greek Cuisine lies on the abundant use of oregano (rigani in Greek) both in dishes and salads.
Origin of Oregano
The name of this herb comes from Greek words “oros” which means mountain and ”ganos” meaning joy.Interestingly enough, oregano as herb originates from the northern regions of Europe but it grows almost everywhere in the world and it’s used all over the world as well.
However, Italian and Greek dishes are practically unimaginable without it. This tradition has its roots in ancient times when both Greeks and Romans widely welcomed its beautiful aroma. They even used it in a laurel as a decoration during wedding ceremonies. So, both Greek origin of the name and old tradition made oregano into a symbol of joy.
Dry oregano gives more flavour to food than its fresh cousin. Greeks use both versions, depending on the dish. When they use fresh oregano, it has to be with clear-green leaves and no brownish spots or soggy ends. Dry oregano is widely use in cooking in Greece. When cooking with it, be sure to add it towards the end or even once you turn the oven or stove off so that you can preserve the best taste of the herb.
Greek cuisine is almost unimaginable without oregano. From tomato sauces and lemon-oil sauce for fish to fried veggies and grilled meat, it can be found in many dishes. Greek salads simply are not “Greek” without oregano. Noone can imagine Horiatiki, the Greek Salad, without oregano on the top! The most common use of oregano in Greek cuisine is in tomato sauce, boiled and fried veggies, grilled meat, and above everything in Greek salad.
Oregano and Health
Oregano is also known for its health benefits. It represents a good source of fibre, iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and K, and omega 3 fatty acids, and is considered one of the best antioxidants. Hippocrates, the first known doctor, used oregano for stomach and respiratory problems. Oregano from Crete, Greeks used even today to alleviate a discomfort and pain of sore-throat.
Oregano is also effective for healthy digestive and immune system, joint and muscle flexibility and respiratory health. According to experts oregano can also help individuals maintain a smooth and clear looking skin, preventing the toxic effects from unhealthy organisms that attack our skin.
Above all, though, oregano can add a touch of Mediterranean charm and flavour to any dish, thus it is is an indispensable ingredient of Greek Cuisine.