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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Enhance and flavor your food with fresh oregano

Image of fresh oregano on a wooden cutting board with blurry background

Oregano is found in many herb gardens likely due to the large number of dishes it can help flavor. It’s famously known for it’s use in pizza and complements most any tomato dish. Fresh oregano has a bold peppery taste that pairs well with cooked vegetables, including eggplant and zucchini, egg dishes, vinaigrettes, and chicken, fish and pork. There are several types of oregano, but Greek oregano is generally what’s sold in most stores. Mexican oregano has more citrus notes and is the oregano used in chili powder.

To use fresh oregano, wash the leaves on the stems under cool running water. Gently shake and pat dry with paper towels. Oregano has a sturdy stem, which makes stripping off the leaves much easier. Simply run your thumb and finger down the length of the stem from top to bottom and the leaves will pop off. Chop the leaves finely to release the oils and add more towards the end of cooking time for the most flavor. To store, snip off the ends of the stems and place stem-down in a glass with an inch of water in the refrigerator or wrap the oregano sprigs in a damp paper towel, put in an opened plastic bag or container and keep in the refrigerator for one week. To freeze oregano simply place sprigs or leaves in an airtight freezer container or bag. Thawed oregano works best in soups or sauces. Flavor your foods with this aromatic herb!

Penne Pasta with Prosciutto

10 oz. whole grain penne pasta

1 (2 oz.) package pine nuts (may use almonds or cashews)

3 oz. prosciutto

3 tomatoes, cored and diced

8 oz. no-added salt tomato sauce

¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, cook nuts in a large skillet for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant; remove from pan to let cool. In the same skillet, cook prosciutto in an even layer over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan and chop once cool enough to touch. In the same skillet, add remaining ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Add sauce to cooked pasta and toss in nuts and prosciutto. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 290 calories, 9 grams fat, 260 milligrams sodium, 44 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 13 grams protein


University of Minnesota Extension. Preserving herbs by freezing or drying

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Smith is a Nutrition and Wellness Educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties. Smith uses her experience as a registered dietitian nutritionist to deliver impactful information and cutting-edge programs to Livingston, McLean, and Woodford Counties and beyond.