Marjoram

A versatile aromatic herb added to pasta, salads, fish or meat.

Marjoram sports a warm taste similar to that of thyme in some varieties and closer to that of oregano in others.

Contrary to what it could seem, the name of the plant does not derive from the Latin word major. Marjoram is one of the herbs of provence.

There are four species used in cooking, the one used most often has a flavor very similar to thyme, while the others taste of oregano in varying degrees.

How to identify marjoram

Marjoram is a perennial herb. It has numerous stems and small, velvety leaves with an oval shape.

How to use and store marjoram

The aromatic leaves, either fresh or dry, are the part used. The tops are cut as marjoram begins to flower and dried slowly in the shade. Its penetrating aroma, reminding of pine and citrus, often perfumes cooked pork products and other deli meats. Marjoram also flavors salads, bean and vegetable soups, stuffed vegetables, or sauces. It can also be used in confectionery and to prepare flavored spirits.

How to grow marjoram

The plant is cultivated for its aromatic leaves. Originally from the Mediterranean area, it is now cultivated in other areas with temperate climates, as the plant is sensitive to cold.

Cooking with marjoram

As a general guideline, use marjoram wherever you would use oregano or thyme.

Aromatic risotto

1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium size onion, chopped
1 Tbs butter
1 cup shelled peas
1 small lettuce, shredded
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups warm vegetable stock
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs chopped fresh marjoram

  1. Heat up the butter in a pan until it becomes bubbly. Cook onion until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add diced carrot and lettuce and cook 3-4 minutes. Add peas and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  2. Add the rice. Stir for a couple of minutes to mix well and to coat it in the butter. Pour the wine and take it to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, adding the warm vegetable stock, a little at a time, before the rice gets dry. It will take about 15 minutes and the rice should be creamy.
  3. When the rice is almost ready, add the Parmesan cheese and stir lightly to mix. Sprinkle marjoram on top, cover and let it stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese or serve with a bowl of grated cheese on the side.

Marjoram substitution - If a recipe calls for marjoram and you don't have it, you can substitute 1 Tbs chopped fresh marjoram with:

  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs chopped fresh summer savory
  • 1 Tbs chopped sweet basil
  • 1-2 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp herbes de Provence.

Marjoram milder flavor appeals to many that would find oregano or thyme too strong.

Experiment

Sprinkle some chopped marjoram leaves, fresh or dried, on top of your pasta. Prepare a mild marjoram flavored vinaigrette and use it as dressing for a simple lettuce and tomato salad.

Sprinkle fresh chopped marjoram onto fish steaks before baking them.

Add marjoram to your breadcrumbs, for extra flavor, on its own mixed with oregano and basil. Mix finely chopped rosemary and marjoram with breadcrumbs before using them to bread chicken tenders or your favorite cutlets.

Marjoram plant.

Marjoram

Dried marjoram