Marjoram adds love, happiness; perhaps prophetic
Here’s a rather timely recipe just right for the day after turkey day. Try this tasty tetrazzini rendition for supper this weekend if you’re too pooped to go out after a full week of cleaning, grocery shopping, traveling, cooking, washing, decorating, entertaining and Christmas shopping.
I doubt that you’ve ever heard anyone exclaim that they love cooking with marjoram. You probably have a little used jar of marjoram in your spice cabinet or maybe not. It’s not an herb we use often but maybe we could and probably should for good reason.
Love and happiness. According to ancient Greeks and Romans this leafy herb symbolized happiness in the here and now and even on into the afterlife. They would even weave marjoram stems into funeral wreaths. And through the ages marjoram has been used in love spells. It was believed that if a young woman placed marjoram under her pillow, her future spouse would be revealed in her dreams.
Marjoram is a kissing cousin to oregano and both come from the mint family. The most common variety is sweet marjoram and is most widely available in markets and grocery stores. Nowadays, marjoram is a main player in seasoning foods of Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s light, sweet, and delicate, similar to oregano but without oregano’s more distinctive taste.
Last is best. Because it imparts a rather light tasting flavor to foods, it’s best to add marjoram last, like during the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time. And you can substitute it for oregano. I read that some cooks even coined the phrase “when in doubt, use marjoram.”
My jar of marjoram says to use the minty, aromatic and slightly bitter flavor in spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, stuffing, tomato dishes and some meats. And, you will see it frequently called for in recipes of veal and lamb.
Try sautéing sliced smoked sausage (plain beef flavor) with julienned bell peppers, sliced onions, sliced mushrooms, (canned and drained are okay) and minced garlic in olive oil and a pat of butter. When the veggies are tender, add ½ cup white wine, a long splash of Worcestershire sauce, a tablespoon or so of parsley flakes, freshly grated black pepper, kosher salt to taste and a teaspoon of marjoram leaves. Continue to simmer for about 5 – 6 minutes and serve over hot cooked pasta of your choice. Mine is fettuccini or penne pasta. Add a roll and a quick salad and a super tasty supper is on the table.
And it’s so good on buttered and cooked baby carrots. Just add a couple of dashes and you’ll see.
Pretty soon I bet you’ll be singing, “I love cooking with marjoram!”
Recipe of the Week
Serve with a sweet and tangy side of leftover cranberry sauce!
12 ounces vermicelli, or spaghetti
1 4-ounce can sliced mushroom, liquid drained and saved
1 teaspoon celery salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried marjoram (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 10.75 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 ½ cups low fat evaporated milk
2-ounce jar chopped pimientos
¼ cup margarine
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 medium stalks celery, finely sliced
2 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey
4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to directions, drain and set aside. In medium bowl, combine reserved mushroom liquid, celery salt, cayenne pepper, marjoram, soup, evaporated milk and pimientos. Set aside. Melt margarine in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and mushrooms. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Stir in milk mixture, continue cooking, stirring frequently, until sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in turkey; mix with prepared pasta, stirring thoroughly. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with cheeses. Refrigerated for 2 hours to overnight. Bake in 350-degree preheated oven, uncovered for 30 – 45 minutes, or until bubbly. Chopped cooked chicken can also be used.