This week I'm find myself featuring another find from the Farmers' Market - in this case a rather rustic looking bunch of dried oregano.
These many fond memories of shopping with my mother in the local delis and being confronted by the plastic bags containing bunches of dried oregano hanging next to the various cured meats. It's most memorable feature was and is it's unmistakable aroma. Where fresh oregano is a somewhat subtle scent, dried oregano hits you in the face, though powerful, it's quite alluring and intoxicating.
To use, you would just use some of the loose leaves that had collected at the bottom of the bag and then just rub them between your fingers or your palms to break them up. It was then a matter of simply sprinkling it over your dish.
As basil brings thought of Italy, dried oregano creates pictures of the Aegean and the Mediterranean. So I thought I'd use oregano to help create a Mediterranean inspired salad - using a variety of summer vegetables and a little gourmet fetta - something that you could eat on it's own or as an accompaniment to grilled meats.
[Serves 2 or more if served as side dish]
1 baby Cos/Romaine lettuce, leaves left whole, washed and dried
4 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced in half and then into thirds
1 small Lebanese cucumber, peeled and then sliced finely lengthways
2 red radish, sliced finely
8 olives, pitted
8 mint leaves, shredded
1 small red salad onion, sliced finely
1 quarter Moroccan preserved lemon, sliced very finely
1 disc Gourmet Fetta (or Marinated Fetta), broken into small pieces
red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Line your serving bowl with the baby Cos lettuce leaves.
In another bowl add the tomatoes, cucumber, radish, olives, mint leaves, onion, preserved lemon and half the fetta - toss well to get a good mix.
Make a dressing with the olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with a little salt, pepper and a just a pinch of dried oregano (you'll add more at the end). Pour this over the mixed vegetables and mix well before placing it over the prepared cos lettuce leaves.
Scatter over with the remaining fetta and give it a little drizzle of olive oil before finishing it off with another sprinkling of crushed dried oregano.
There it is - simple and fresh and every bite offering another flavour combination.