The taste of “real” oregano

Ever wondered what makes Portuguese salads taste so good? At my favourite chicken piri-piri restaurant in Guia (Casa Ramirez), the salads have always been outstanding; good local tomatoes and those mild onions we find in these warmer climes are no doubt of paramount importance, as is a decent olive oil. But good oregano is absolutely essential.

There is simply no comparison when it comes to the taste and fragrance of this herb when taken straight from a bunch of naturally dried oregano sprigs as opposed to the freezer-dried version sold packaged in most supermarkets.

A bunch of sprigs as shown in the photo is something very difficult to find in the UK for instance, but is an ingredient my visiting friends and family always take home with them to add a taste of Algarve sunshine to their salads at home.

They can be found at any local produce market here in the Algarve and at the better supermarkets.

This really is a great herb for all sorts of uses. Sprinkling on boiled potatoes drizzled in olive oil or to flavour grilled meats and fish are just a few possibilities but it is truly at home on a good salad.

To get the most out of the flavour try grinding some up with rock salt in a pestle and mortar (or food blender) then adding olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice for a truly great salad dressing.

By PATRICK STUART [email protected]