Oregano (Recipe: grilled lamb, souvlaki style)
Last Spring I planted two types of oregano, Greek and Italian, in my herb garden.
One lived through the winter. One didn't.
Before I tell you which one survived, I want to be clear that this is not a political commentary, nor is it a reflection on which cuisine reigns supreme.
It's not even a matter of taste, as both have strong, unique flavor. (Use any type of fresh oregano sparingly; it's surprisingly potent.)
No, it's just Mother Nature, or the quirks of my herb garden, that enabled the Italian oregano to survive where the Greek oregano could not.
That's the great thing about gardening, though; there's always next year! I'm off to the herbary now for another Greek oregano plant.
What is oregano?
Origanum vulgare, a member of the mint family, native to the Mediterranean region. Also known as wild marjoram, it's a perennial that grows up to two feet tall; the tiny leaves are peppery and strong-flavored.
How/where to store:
Dried, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, away from heat, for up to 1 year, or in the freezer for up to 2 years. Buy leaves, rather than ground.
More facts about oregano, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Oregano (Recipe: posole)
Grilled lamb, souvlaki style
This recipe combines inspiration from many sources, including Barefoot Contessa and souvlaki recipes from two food blogs, Kalofagas and Kalyn's Kitchen. My local market sells organic boneless leg of lamb. I leave it whole, for grilling, but you can also cut it into cubes and cook on skewers, more in the souvlaki tradition. Leftovers are great for sandwiches. Serves 8-10.
2-1/2 lbs boneless leg of lamb
2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp Greek seasoning (I use Greektown Billygoat Seasoning from The Spice House)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
Remove the lamb from its packaging, and dry with paper towels. Set aside.
Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, and stir to incorporate. Add the lamb to the bowl, and with your hands, massage the marinade into the meat. Place the meat and marinade into a ziploc bag. Press out the air, seal the bag, and flatten the meat. Place on a plate or tray, and refrigerate for 8-24 hours, or longer.
When you are ready to cook, take the meat out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
Heat the grill on high heat. When the grill is ready, remove the lamb from the bag, and wipe off excess marinade. Run a few metal skewers through it, if desired (I never do), and place on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes, flip onto the other side, and cook an additional 8 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the grill and take its temperature with an instant-read thermometer; when the temperature registers 125F, remove the meat from the grill. Cover lightly with foil. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes before slicing. The thicker parts will be rare; the thinner parts will be more well done. Slice and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Other recipes that use oregano:
Greek oregano ice cream, from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Cucumber and tomato salad with marinated garbanzo beans, feta and herbs, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Small stuffed zucchinis with black rice and oregano, from La Tartine Gourmande
Calamari pizza with goat cheese and oregano, from Stephencooks
Tomato, feta and oregano panini, from Panini Happy