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Oregano, the Joyful Herb

September 23, 2018


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oregano the joyful herb

Oregano is a flowering perennial herb, Origanum vulgare from the mint family. The aroma is spicy/sweet and the flavor is mildly pungent, bitter and slightly sweet. It’s used in savory Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes like chilis soups and bean dishes. Oregano paired with garlic and tomato is found in many Italian dishes and it often makes an appearance in shakers in pizza joints across the US. Combine it with lemon and olive oil with fish lamb or seafood and you have the base for many Greek cuisines.

oregano in greek

Related to the herb marjoram, oregano has Greek roots and was grown as a symbol of joy in Aphrodite’s garden on Mount Olympus. Oregano was meant to bring happiness and in those times, and it was believed to cure just about everything. The Greek word oregano translates to “Joy of the mountain.”

Sometimes oregano is known more as a flavor than an actual herb. Mexican oregano, for example, has a potent oregano flavor but is part of the verbena family. Cuban oregano is also part of the mint family. It’s a hearty plant, almost like a succulent, that has an oregano/thyme flavor and is used in Cuban, Indian and Philippine cuisines. It’s a common herb used in jerk seasoning blends to flavor meat, chicken and bean dishes.

Chimichurri sauce

Basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme pair nicely with oregano. But what if you run out? You could order some, or substitute oregano with marjoram or thyme. Blends like zaatar, a Middle Eastern, sumac-based mixture features oregano. And the famous herby chimichurri sauce from Argentina and Uruguay boasts the pungent, earthy notes of oregano to flavor meats both as a marinade and a sauce. For something different, try Greek oregano jelly. It accompanies roasted meats as a sweet, contrasting counterpoint to the salty, fattiness of pork, lamb or beef. Finally, you can also enjoy oregano as a tea. You can steep a teaspoon of dried oregano for five to 10 minutes. Due to its slightly bitter taste, try adding some honey to balance the flavor.

High Quality Organic Express non-GMO dried oregano is 15% off and enjoy free shipping on orders over $25.


A hearty, one-pan, lemony, garlicky and oregano-infused dish that will have you and your diners exclaiming, Opa! Try serving with tzatziki and a side vegetable.

Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

by Chef John at

greek chicken

4 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2/3 cup chicken broth, plus a splash to deglaze pan
chopped fresh oregano for garnish


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a large roasting pan.

Place chicken pieces in large bowl. Season with salt, oregano, pepper, rosemary, and cayenne pepper. Add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Place potatoes in a bowl with the chicken; stir together until chicken and potatoes are evenly coated with marinade.

Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, to the prepared roasting pan, reserving marinade. Distribute potato pieces among chicken thighs. Drizzle with 2/3 cup chicken broth. Spoon remainder of marinade over chicken and potatoes.

Place in preheated oven. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Toss chicken and potatoes, keeping chicken skin side up; continue baking until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 25 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to serving platter and keep warm.

Set oven to broil or highest heat setting. Toss potatoes once again in pan juices. Place pan under the broiler and broil until potatoes are caramelized about 3 minutes. Transfer potatoes to serving platter with chicken.

Place roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Add a splash of broth and stir up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Strain; spoon juices over chicken and potatoes. Top with chopped oregano.

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