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Jul 26, 2007 12:19 PM

Is fresh oregano in a tomato sauce a crime?

I was once told never to use oregano in tomato sauces.
Never told WHY, just not to do it by an Italian.

Is it really a sin? I like oregano!

The sauce will have tomotoes, garlic, onions, basil, fresh tomatoes at the end.

Can I add oregano?

Also, what is the prevailingopinion about black olives in sauce?

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  1. I suspect every region has its rules and what will fly in the Abruzzo is NEVER done in Puglia...oregano is just fine (ensuring that none of the twiggy bit falls in).

    Now olives...yuck! but thats just me, the "region of LJS" - not Italy as a nation of fine cooks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LJS

      Unless you are making puttanesca which definitely requires some flavourful olives - but that is Sicily! lol

    2. If you like the flavor, put in whatever you want.

      1 Reply
      1. There is a recipe for olives in tomato sauce, where you saute pepper flakes and sliced or rough chopped olives in hot olive oil for 2-3 minutes then add to the cooked sauce just before putting it over the pasta. As for oregano, I use it all the time in tomatoe sauce, but I'll typically use dried oregano because I'm cooking it with the tomatoes for a long time. For a quick "spur of the moment" sauce of say crushed tomatoes and a little cream, I'd use fresh herbs to give it the flavor.

        1 Reply
        1. re: crewsweeper

          We often include olives in our tomato sauce, just how you describe it crewsweeper. I have no idea if it's "authentic" to any particular region of Italy, but we like it, so we eat it. The olives add a really nice depth of flavor to the dish.

        2. I love oregano, and to be honest, Il use the dried herb more often than fresh, simply because I would waste it. I should plant more herbs it would solve this problem. Anyway, I do put a little oregano into my marinara. I think that once you come up with a recipe, a formula that works for you it really isn't much about what other people do or think.

          We have a small Portuguese restaurant not too far away. It was there that we were treated to zucchini dish laced with oregano, and I mean heavy. I didn't think I would like it. Was I wrong. I have a feeling the owner and chef is using fresh though which would make a difference. My husband asks me to make it all the time. I think its one of those herbs that is very much under-rated, and see it as an Italian herb only and to be used with that cuisine only.

          4 Replies
            1. re: Diana

              I don't have a recipe since I try to duplicate the dish from the restaurant from memory. I have done this with zuchinni and carrots.

              Its basically taking a LOT of dry oregano and sauteeing it with 2-3 minced garlic cloves and minced onion, olive oil, butter salt and pepper to make a nice sauce. I steam the veggies al dente separately, then place them in the sauce to finish. I want to say just that the veggies are coated with oregano well. Not like you''re adding a pinch for a hint of flavor. This is about the oregano and you see it clearly.

              It's especially good with carrots and zucchini, oh and speaking of a pinch.I also add a little sugar too. Sorry this one I haven't been precise because they are usually requested on the fly. But I'll make them tonight and see if I can't get it down on paper.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                does "a lot" mean like around three tablespoons or a half cup, or......

              2. re: Diana

                Another recipe that I haven't done in a while (I've forgotten) and I got the idea from a meal while dining in Napa.It was shrimp in a wonderful oregano,olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh tomatoes and a few other things sauce over a cappelini
                or angel hair pasta. So good.

            2. Just a note -- there is more than one type of oregano and the flavor varies quite a bit between the Mexican and Mediterranean varieties.

              RE your question: "Is it really a sin? I like oregano!"
              Cooking and eating what you like should never be regarded as a sin. Cooking and eating are joyous activities to be relished, savoured and remembered for the pleasures they bring. Leave the "sins" to pious priests and the food police. Enjoy!