Taste: A subtle balance between sweet and spicy, the flavor of oregano is bold and earthy with a slight bitterness that’s reminiscent of the aromatic organic compound camphor.
Benefits: In addition to being packed with vitamins A, C, and K, and minerals like iron, calcium, and manganese, oregano is also rich in dietary fiber. This leafy herb is also packed with essential oils like carvacrol and thymol, which have antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory powers that help to fight harmful free radicals and prevent illness.
Culinary Use: Fresh oregano is generally used as a garnish, or added at the end of cooking. The stems are thick enough that branches will hold together when cooked, even through long braises or simmers. When introduced to heat, oregano holds its form. The fresh leaves are peppery and assertive—sometimes even bitter or astringent. They enliven whatever they’re scattered over, be it a savory melon salad, or a piece of fish—and a little goes a long way. But when cooked, its flavor mellows so that it’s earthy but not aggressively woodsy. It’s powerful enough to hold its own in dishes with bold flavors, like smoky grilled chicken or slow-roasted bell peppers.