Oregano: cooking, food pairing and sensory play to teach taste or flavor preference with children to build a lifetime of adventurous eating. Oregano is a low busy perennial of the mint family. It is essential in Italian cooking for pasta sauces, pizza and roasted vegetables. Its strong flavor works well with grills and hearty soups or stews, marinades and even burgers.
Cooking & Food Pairing for Teaching Taste
The taste is warm, slightly sharp with a bitter finish. It adds a sweet but spiciness flavor to food. Oregano combines well with anchovies, artichokes, beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cheese dishes, chicken, corn, duck, eggplant, eggs, fish, lamb, mushrooms, onions, pork, potatoes, spinach, squash, peppers, tomatoes and venison. Great herbs to cook oregano with include basil, bay, chili, cumin, garlic, paprika, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme.
Check out our oregano pesto recipe, herb & cauliflower pizza crust and oregano butter spread.
Sensory Play for Teaching Taste & Food Exploration
Sensory play or food exploration is vital to increasing a child’s familiarity to the food. Oregano is perfect for opening up the senses. It has a strong smell, soft touch and robust flavor. Some activities I allow my children to do include:
- Food preparation by removing the leaves from the stems
- Adding the leaves to ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze for future use
- Hold the sprig and cut the oregano plant to practice motor skills
- Use as a paint brush
Buying & Storing Tips
Oregano plants can be bought from herb nurseries. To dry the herbs, pick stems after the flower buds form and hang by the bunch in a well ventilated, dry place. Rub the leaves off and store in an air tight container.