It was remiss of me not to feature this most Mediterranean of herbs but I suppose it's usually thought of as a dried herb when using it in an Italian kitchen. My mother would buy the dried stalks of oregano from the local deli - it's aroma was utterly intoxicating. I was always amazed how little was actually needed to impart those heady scents.
Oregano belongs to the mint family and it is actually a wild form of marjoram. Oregano is noted for it's heart-shaped, dark green leaves. It's high in antioxidants and has anti-microbial qualities that sees it offer resistance against pathogens such as listeria.
I'll be using oregano in a very simple sauce called Salmoriglio that is a perfect match for grilled fish, chicken and lamb. A traditional match would be grilled swordfish.
Use the quantities listed as a guide as each persons taste is different. Always taste as you are making it and adjust accordingly. If you find the oregano too overwhelming, then try using a mix of half oregano and half parsley. The quantity listed won't make a huge batch - it's so easy that you really can make this to order - there's no point having it hang around for a week losing all it's flavour.
5 stalks fresh oregano, leaves stripped (about 10 grams), washed and dried
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
Use a mortar and pestle for the best result - you can of course use a processor.
Place the oregano leaves and salt into the mortar and using the abrasive qualities of the salt, crush the oregano until it forms a paste like substance. Add the lemon juice and continue using the pestle to incorporate. You should have a smoothish paste by this stage.
Add the oil, one tablespoon at a time, stirring it through with the pestle.
Taste and adjust seasonings - finish with a grinding of pepper.
To use, once the meat is cooked, just paint the surface with a little of the Salmoriglio before serving.