Quick Recipes and Easy

Make Much of Marjoram

Marjoram has a long history as an herb used in like spells and potions. The ancient Greeks and Romans crowned newly married couples with it to ensure happiness. The Greeks also believed that if a girl placed marjoram in her bed, Aphrodite would enter her dreams and reveal the identity of her future spouse.

The
Romans believed that marjoram had been touched by Venus who left her perfume in
the herb to remind mortals of her beauty.

Marjoram
is a mint in the oregano family. The three main varieties are: Sweet Marjoram,
an annual and preferred in the kitchen; Wild or Common Marjoram, a perennial,
the uses of which are primarily medicinal; and Pot Marjoram, a tender perennial
also known as Cretan Oregano, most often used in hanging baskets as an indoor
winter plant, although some people do not like its balsamic fragrance.

In the
garden, sweet marjoram seeds are small and slow to germinate. It is best to
start them indoors and then set them out when all danger of frost has passed.
As with all herbs, choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. Be very
diligent in your weeding as marjoram seedlings are small and easily
overwhelmed.

Medicinally,
marjoram has digestive, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic and diuretic
qualities. Marjoram tea aids digestion, increases sweating and encourages
menstruation. The herb has been shown to inhibit viruses such as herpes 1 and
is an antioxidant that helps preserve foods containing it. Used as a steam
inhalant, marjoram clears the sinuses and helps relieve laryngitis. An infusion
of weak marjoram tea is helpful for children’s colic.

In the
kitchen, marjoram can be described as a mild oregano with a slightly balsamic
flavor. It works well with all kinds of meats, fish, soups and egg and cheese
dishes. It is one of the essential herbs in Italian cooking. Marjoram has a
particular affinity for legumes and should be added to bean, split pea or
lentil soup. It also enhances the flavor of most vegetables.

Marjoram Grilled Chicken Breasts with Dill-Chive
Sauce

·
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
·
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
·
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
·
6 Tbsp. fresh sweet marjoram, or 2-3 of dried
·
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
·
¾ cup of sour cream
·
¾ cup of yogurt
·
½ tsp. salt
·
2 Tbsp. fresh dill
·
¼ cup of fresh chives

Pound
the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness. Rub them with the olive oil and
lemon juice and sprinkle with the marjoram and pepper. Marinate in the
refrigerator for at least one hour, but preferably longer. Heat a large frying
pan with a small olive oil to medium-high. Add the chicken and cook until the
breasts are done, but not overcooked, about 10-12 minutes, turning once.
Combine the sour cream, yogurt, salt, pepper, dill and chives. Serve this sauce
either over the chicken or as a condiment.

Asparagus with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

·
1 lb. fresh asparagus
·
2 Tbsp. blue cheese
·
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
·
2-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
·
1 Tbsp. fresh sweet marjoram, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried
and crumbled
·
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim
the tough ends of the asparagus. Steam the spears until just tender, about 5-10
minutes depending on their thickness. Be sure not to overcook. Drain the spears
well and allow to cool to room temperature. Mash the blue cheese in a small
bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice; sweet marjoram and salt and pepper. Spoon
the dressing over the asparagus and serve at room temperature.

Marjoram
is an essential ingredient in the fantastic Italian soup known as Minestrone.
Minestrone recipes vary greatly according to the region and season. Some
recipes use meat such as sausages, and some use rice instead of pasta. But,
following is a basic minestrone recipe that can be tailored to an individual
taste:

Robust Minestrone Soup

·
2 large carrots, chopped
·
2 celery stalks, chopped
·
1 large potato, diced
·
1 large red onion, diced
·
3 Tbsp. olive oil
·
1 large can Italian tomatoes
·
6 cups of chicken, vegetable or herbed bouillon
·
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
·
1 small zucchini, sliced
·
Handful of green beans, cut into 1 inch lengths
·
1 pound of green or red chard, cut into 1 inch strips
·
1 cup of cooked or canned white beans
·
1 cup of small dried pasta (e.g. rotelli or penne)
·
1 Tbsp. of fresh chopped marjoram or one tsp. of crumbled
dried marjoram
·
1 Tbsp. of fresh chopped oregano or one tsp. of crumbled
dried oregano
·
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
·
½ cup of freshly grated Romano or parmesan cheese

Sauté the onion, potato, carrots and celery in the
olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the
stock, pasta, tomatoes and garlic and cook over a low heat for another 20
minutes. Then add the green beans, chard, zucchini, and white beans and cook
for another 15 minutes. Finally add the marjoram and oregano and salt and
pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes and then add the cheese to each
bowl when serving.

Bruce Burnett is an award-winning writer, a chartered herbalist and author of HerbWise: growing cooking wellbeing. Bruce and his wife Delaine own Olivia’s Fashion, Furnishings & Gifts ( olivias.ca/ olivias.ca/) in Ladysmith, BC Canada. Read more published articles by Bruce Burnett on his websites: bruceburnett.ca/ bruceburnett.ca/ and herbalcuisine.com/ herbalcuisine.com/

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