I’m ready for a little joy and hopefully this pesto will do the trick. Oros ganos, a Greek word meaning joy of the mountain, defines the mountain sides of Greece where oregano and marjoram flourish. The sweet, spicy scent was created by Aphrodite as a symbol of happiness. Marjoram is in the same family as oregano and not quite as strong in flavor. Bridal couples were crowned with garlands of marjoram and plants were placed on tombs to give peace to the departed.
Oregano is one of my favorite herbs. I love the flavor it gives to pizza and tomato sauce. I love it on subs as part of an Italian dressing and I love it on grilled fish. It tastes savory on fresh tomatoes and gives a definite warmth to eggs and cheese. Butter or olive oil, lemon and oregano brushed on fish or shrimp-heaven in my book. I have oregano growing in my herb garden and it is just starting to flower which means harvest now, or forget about it. I could dry it and I will, but this year I thought I’d try a pesto with my favorite herb.
I love pestos of every sort. I use them with a bit of extra oil as salad dressings. I stir pesto into rice or any grain dish. Of course, they always work with pasta. Try some mixed into your favorite vegetable. I can tell you that I plan on trying this pesto over grilled corn. Pesto is great with goat cheese as a spread on crackers or a baguette. Over tomatoes-no questions asked. Pesto stirred into mayonnaise makes a great flavored spread for any sandwich. Tonight’s dinner plan is this pesto spread over grilled fish. I can’t wait. Pesto in scrambled eggs? A dollop of pesto in soup gives so much flavor. You get the idea. Pesto is a workhorse in the kitchen.
One of the best things about pesto is that it can be frozen. That is great news for your summer’s bounty of herbs because that means you can taste summer, all winter long. How good is that? You can freeze it in small containers or you can freeze it in ice cube trays so if you want just a little flavor all you have to do is pop one out. But when I have a container of pesto I tend to think of all the ways I can use it. Which means I go through it pretty fast.
As an herb, oregano was used in Egypt to preserve, heal and disinfect. In Europe, oregano was used in nosegays because of its sweet scent. It was also used in furniture polish to make the air more fragrant. I can attest to the fact that honeybees love my oregano. Now if I could just find that hive! So enough about oregano. Tonight I’m sprinkling some dried oregano and salt and pepper on my fish. Then as soon as it is grilled through I ‘m going to top it with a dollop of pesto and serve it on a bed of pasta with some fresh, juicy, red tomatoes thrown in. I better get started. Just writing this is making me drool!
Lemon Oregano Pesto (Makes about 1 cup)
1/4 c olive oil
2 chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, halved
1 T walnuts
1 1/2 t lemon juice
Zest of half a lemon
1/3 c grated parmesan (optional)
1 lightly packed cup of Italian parsley
1 lightly packed cup of fresh oregano leaves (Take the leaves off the stem by running your hand backwards up the stem)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of red chili flakes
Since I don’t have a blender I threw this in a food processor and processed until well combined and pesto like! Use a blender if you want and puree until smooth. If you like more oil feel free to drizzle more in. And by all means if you can’t find oregano, just fly to Greece. Just kidding. But you could use cilantro or mint or basil instead!