Funky Cuban Oregano

oreganoA regular item in our CSA box is Cuban Oregano. It has a lot of different names such as:
Spanish thyme, Indian mint, Soup mint, French thyme or Indian Borage and it’s a native to Southern and Eastern Afrika. It is used as a decorative plant in many houses in south India.

Medicinal use
Medicinally the juice of the leaves are prescribed in cases of dyspepsia, for asthma, pains in the area of the heart and stomach, coughs, bronchitis, epilepsy, scurvy and urinary diseases. It also expels gas from the stomach and bowels and relieves a sour stomach.

Some cultures make a mild tea with a couple of leaves and boiling water with this plant which will eventually become a small shrub and often prescribe it for digestive problems, respiratory ailments, and arthritis. It can be made into a syrup with tea and sugar for sore throat and coughs to help ease symptoms.
Some gardeners rub cuban oregano all over the skin and use it as an insect repellant. It is also known for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Some have processed the leaves into oil to rub on your chest for a bronchial remedy.

How to use in the kitchen

In a previous blog we shared a recipe with you for grilled chicken with Cuban oregano:
csaproducerecipes.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/cuban-oregano-a-versatile-herb/

But you can do so much more with this herb!!

In the Caribbean the fresh leaves are used to season fish and goat. You can use it in an omelette, in your pasta sauce and they can be chopped in chile pastes (something like Jerk Seasoning, but without the strong Onion and Ginger presence).

The leaves are the primary seasoning in the Cuban black bean soup, Frijoles Negros and you can use it in a salsa, mincing the leaves together with various unripe fruits to serve as an accompaniment to rice.

In Java and Malaysia it is used in curries. The leaves are sometimes used to flavor beers and wines in India and you can also brew it as herbal tea.

I hope this post, including this weeks recipes, will give you more ideas on what to do with this funky herb!!!

125-59_mojo_250Cuban marinade
You can use it as a marinade for meat or chicken but can also pour it over veggies and potatoes or toss it with salad greens.

Ingredients:
-1/4 cup chopped garlic
-1/2 cup chopped onion
-1 cup fresh orange juice
-1/2 cup fresh lime juice
-1/2 cup olive oil
-4 teaspoons Himalaya or sea salt
-1 tablespoon black pepper
-2 teaspoons ground cumin
-1 cup Cuban oregano
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

 

Preparation:
– Mix together the garlic, onions, orange juice, and lime juice in a bowl.
– Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
– Slide the contents of the bowl into the hot oil — be very careful because the liquid will splatter.
– Simmer for 5 minutes to soften the onions and garlic.
– Season the marinade with the rest of the ingredients. Pour everything into a blender or food processor and pulse to combine.
– Pour into a plastic container and cool to room temperature; then cover and refrigerate.
– This marinade keeps for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

 

Cuban SofritoCuban-Sofrito
Sofrito is the base for most Puerto Rican dishes and freshly made it’s better than store bought. The base can be added to beans, rice, soups, stews and also served as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 
5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or peanut oils
  • 
1 teaspoon salt
  • 
1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 oregano leaves, cut small
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can tomato sauce

Directions:
– Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
– Add onion and garlic, and cook until onion is translucent.
– Add the bell pepper, and sauté until tender.
– Season with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and bay leaves.
– Continue cooking until the mixture looks like a yummy green paste with oil around it.
– Stir in the tomatoes and cook stirring until all of the liquid is released.
– Gradually stir in the tomato sauce simmer until the sauce looks really red.
– Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired.
– Remove bay leaves and serve with baked sweet potatoes or rice.

 

Cuban oregano vegan pestopesto

A little twist to the original basil pesto!!

Ingredients:

– 4 cloves garlic
– 3 cups Cuban oregano
– 1/2 cup pinenuts, almonds, walnuts or pumpkin seeds
– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (if you’re not a vegan use grated Parmesan)
– Pinch of salt & pepper pinch
– 1/2 cup really good extra vierge olive oil, hempoil or avocado oil

Blend everything but the olive oil for 30 seconds and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

 

 

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