Monthly Archives: June 2012

Using Herbs: Mexican Oregano

Last week when I posted about using oregano in salsa, I bet some of you wondered whether I meant to use Mexican oregano. No, I really like the flavor of Mediterranean oregano in salsa.

Mexican oregano is a different plant. It is also called rosemary mint, Poliomintha longiflora. It is from North America rather than Europe and has a very different appearance.

The leaves are finer, more shiny and opposite in arrangement.

The flowers are delicate pinkish – lavender tubes. The Mexican oregano plant is a small perennial shrub that does well in arid climates. It is a lovely addition to a xeriscape garden.

We use Mexican oregano in chili and soups, particularly green pozole (If you’d like the recipe, let me know).

Not to be confusing, but there is also a related plant that grows wild in the southwestern United States, Poliomintha incana, commonly called frosted mint, and another plant commonly called Mexican oregano,  Lippia graveolens. The latter has white flowers and a different growth form. I guess that’s why common names are not always reliable.

Have you ever grown/used Mexican oregano? Do you have a favorite recipe?

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Using Herbs: Oregano Salsa

Herbs are so fun to grow in the garden. They are hardy, often easy to cultivate, and they have so many uses.

Take oregano (Origanum vulgare) for example.

I have a couple of different varieties growing. One of local favorites is called Katy’s Grandmother’s oregano. It is a prolific variety that loves the heat.

This kind of oregano is used extensively in Mediterranean cooking. What pasta or pizza sauce would be complete without it?

Recently, however, I learned that oregano can be a wonderful substitute for cilantro in salsa.

Some people definitely don’t enjoy the flavor of cilantro, which they describe as “soapy.” This quick and easy oregano-flavored salsa may be perfect solution.

Oregano Salsa

  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
  • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
  • 1/4 to 1/2 white onion
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 Tbsp. packed fresh oregano leaves (omit stems)

Place above ingredients in a blender and pulse briefly. The ingredients should be mixed well, but still be slightly chunky. That’s it! Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.

You can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste. For example, if you enjoy spicy foods, add a can of diced jalapenos instead of, or in addition to, the diced green chilies. You might want to increase the oregano slightly if you supply is very mild, but you don’t want to substitute it one-for-one for cilantro in most recipes because oregano is more intense.

Serving suggestions:

This salsa is too yummy to only use it to accompany corn chips. Try it on scrambled eggs, sliced pork tenderloin, or poached salmon fillets. You will be pleasantly surprised how versatile it is.

Do you have any favorite oregano recipes? i would love to hear about them.

Gardening: Is Looking Messy a Problem?

I ran across two stories yesterday with a similar theme. A gardener does amazing things growing edible plants and flowers in a limited urban space and she comes up against zoning issues, often based on complaints from neighbors about the appearance of her property (see details below).

That got me thinking about the conflict between expectations of tidiness and how plants in a garden actually grow.

I personally think a messy garden is a thing of beauty. Its appearance changes constantly. The plants always defy expectations. Sometimes they stubbornly refuse to grow; other times they bulge out of the space provided and overwhelm the plants nearby. But no matter what, the next week or the next month, everything will look different.

How do we go about educating non-gardeners to understand and appreciate a landscape that has a less formal, not-quite-organized look? Perhaps by teaching children to garden and pointing out the hidden beauty to them? Perhaps by celebrating a bit of messiness in our gardening blogs? Perhaps by supporting our gardening friends who have a vision that is different than our own?

What do you think? Next time you go to pin a gorgeous formal landscape to your Pinterest board, will you consider adding a more realistic and untidy one as well?

The stories that got me thinking:

1. Stephen Orr. The Power of Flowers. Martha Stewart Living. July 2012. pp. 70-73. (Features Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms.)

2. Tulsa woman’s edible garden cut down.

Queen of the Night

When a friend calls and says her Queen of the Night is blooming, you just have to drop everything and go.

They only bloom for one night and quickly close up in the morning.

Here comes the morning light.

By the way, if this blog was 4D, you would be nearly overpowered by the sweet perfume of this flower.

Thank you, Deb S., for sharing.