Oregano is one of the best herbs for home gardeners to start growing. This easy to grow perennial herb can put up with a lot of neglect. It thrives in less than ideal soil conditions and if you forget to water it once in a while it won’t even notice. While being one of the easiest herbs to grow it is also one of the most useful herbs.
Oregano is a wonderful herb to have on hand for everyday cooking and is a popular ingredient in many Italian, Greek and Mexican food recipes.
However, if you’ve ever planted some in your herb garden you might quickly find out just how prolific it can be, as it can threaten to take over. (I learned this one the hard way!) You may find yourself with so much extra fresh oregano you will soon be looking for new ways to use it all up.
If you are looking for ideas, here are 12 easy ways to use fresh oregano so none goes to waste.
1. Add oregano to any tomato sauce.
Oregano is an Italian classic herb well known for its use in pasta and pizza. It makes a great addition to any tomato or pasta sauce. If you have an abundance of tomatoes and oregano it’s a great time to make a big batch of homemade sauce to enjoy in the winter months.
2. Add it to an herb bread.
Oregano blends well with basil and thyme in savoury herb breads. Simply chop up some of these three fresh herbs and knead right into your favourite homemade bread recipe. Don’t have all three of these herbs? Oregano is great on its own, or experiment with different combinations of herbs that you do have on hand.
3. Make an infused olive oil.
Oregano and garlic make for an amazing infused olive oil for cooking or for dipping fresh bread into. Place oregano and garlic in a jar of olive oil and allow to infuse for a couple of weeks in a cool dark place. Strain and store for cooking. This is the perfect addition to roasted potatoes and other vegetables, chicken and pasta.
4. Use oregano leaves and flowers in salads.
Fresh oregano leaves and the beautiful pale purple flowers are flavourful additions to summer salads.
5. Use it in homemade salad dressings and marinades.
Oregano makes a tasty addition to homemade salad dressings, barbecue sauces and marinades to serve with savoury chicken, beef, lamb, and pork dishes.
6. Make pesto with oregano leaves.
Add fresh oregano to your pesto for a tasty variation from the traditional basil pesto. It’s great to add to pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches. I once experimented with making garlic scape and oregano pesto when I had an abundance of both in my garden, and it has become one of my favourite ways to make pesto. Ever since I’ve made a big batch every year to freeze for use all year long.
Tip: Freeze some pesto in ice cube trays and transfer to freezer bags once frozen, to add fresh herb flavour to chicken and pasta dishes.
7. Make your own herbed butter.
Make a delicious herb butter by adding oregano, basil, thyme, sage or any other favourite cooking herbs to softened butter. Use for everyday cooking, add to potato or pasta dishes, meats or spread some on fresh bread. You can even make lots and freeze it for future use.
8. Make a herbal vinegar.
Making herbal vinegars is a fantastic way to use up fresh herbs. They’re easy to make and if you package them in pretty bottles or jars they make wonderful gifts. Be sure to add in some of the oregano flowers if you have them to make the bottles of herb vinegar even prettier.
9. Make your own herbal cooking salts.
Herbal cooking salts are incredibly easy to make and add delicious flavour to your recipes. A mix of rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage is a particularly delicious and useful combination. These herbal culinary salts are great for gift giving any time of year.
10. Try making fresh oregano infused honey.
This is perfect for brushing over fresh homemade bread or adding a sweet kick to your favorite savoury sauces. This oregano infused honey recipe can also be used during cold and flu season to help keep your family healthy.
11. Add oregano to chicken soup.
Oregano is a powerful germ killer and immune system booster. In fact, oregano is often added to the water of livestock to help keep them healthy without using antibiotics. It makes a great addition to your homemade chicken soup recipes when you’re fighting a cold (or just add a few leaves to a store bought chicken soup to help boost your immune system).
12. Make oregano tea.
Use some oregano leaves to brew a tea that’s perfect for soothing headaches or fighting off colds. Oregano is part of the mint family and in turn, can make a great headache soother when brewed into a tea for sipping.
To make an oregano tea just substitute oregano leaves for the basil in this Stress Busting Basil Tea recipe.
I hope these ideas inspired you to find ways to use up any extra oregano you might have from your garden.
What are your favourite ways to use oregano?