Sunday, November 23, 2008

Day 134 / Day 69 - Recipe for Fresh Oregano

Tomorrow is our company's "pot luck". Now, every year I've come up with a dish that I've made in the past, but this year, I figured I'd make use of my bumper harvest of oregano from the "holiday herbs" Aerogarden. 

The "holiday herbs" Aerogarden has taken a bit of a back seat to the tomato and lettuce Aerogardens, but that's only because it's been doing so well, like the well-behaved child that doesn't get much attention because his siblings are busy getting into messes.  

Well, our star pupil has gotten into a bit of a mess. The Aerogarden's grown into quite a bit of a jungle. The oregano in particular has grown so voluminous that it's intertwined with the parsley and the thyme, and the one sage plant (the other never came up) is gargantuan! 

So, my goal was to find a recipe that used fresh oregano. A LOT of fresh oregano.

Most of the recipes I found were for fish dishes. Turns out fresh oregano is excellent with salmon, red snapper, halibut, and a whole bunch of other great fish. But of course, I can't bring fish to a potluck (although in the coming months, I'm sure I'll be attempting a fish dish.

I decided upon this recipe: Fresh Tomato Penne with Oregano.


  • 1  (16-oz.) package penne pasta
  • 1/4  pound  prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil
  • 3  plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (2-oz.) package pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm.

2. Cook prosciutto in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat 8 minutes or until crisp. Add tomatoes and next 7 ingredients; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until tomatoes are tender. Toss with warm cooked pasta. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

It seemed like the perfect dish. I had most of the ingredients already, and tomatoes and prosciutto were on sale at the local supermarket. So, I went and bought what I didn't have.

The first step was harvesting the oregano:

A pretty good haul. I managed to chop 1/2 cup full of oregano, more than what this recipe later, but it would turn out handy later. 

Next step was mincing the garlic and chopping the proscuitto into diced pieces. I read a handy hint on the Web that the best way to chop proscuitto is by freezing it for 15 minutes (yes, I know I'm spelling prosciutto wrong each time, but at this point I've given up trying to fix it).   

Next step, chopping the tomatoes. It would have been cool if I had been able to harvest the tomatoes from the Aerogarden, but alas, the smiley salad was the last recipe for a good while. 

In an effort to "inspire" the tomato Aerogarden like last time, I held the box of tomatoes up to it and gave it a little Knute Rockne inspirational speech. 
Well, long story short, after a while, my whole house smelled soooooooooooooooooooooooo good. If I were in the scented candle biz, I'd sell a candle that smells like fried proscuitto. It was one of the most amazing smells, especially when intermingled with the garlic and the toasted pine nuts and the fresh smell of oregano. 

I mixed it with a pound of penne pasta. I tasted it, and unfortunately, it ended up tasting like slightly-flavored penne pasta. 

Not to be defeated, I went and repeated the whole process again. Turns out I had double of every ingredient, including the all-important fresh oregano. So I made another batch and tossed half of it into the pasta. That brought the flavor out, and it was not bad, although knowing what everyone else is bringing to the pot luck, I have a feeling this dish isn't going to blow anyone away. 

And so, this is what I'm bringing tomorrow: 

I'm hoping people like it, but if they don't, that just means I've got my dinner plans set for the next few days!

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