July 18th, 2011

{recipe} When Life Hands You Oregano… 10-Minute Lemony Oregano Shrimp

Lemony Oregano Shrimp

My CSA gave us a huge bunch of oregano 4 weeks in a row. That’s a lot of oregano. (And said by a Greek, no less!) I love me some fresh oregano, but really.

After I’d rubbed a roaster, made a greek salad, stewed beans and sauced grilled fish with my ancestors’ favorite herb (each time combined with lemon and olive oil), I was left wondering… now what?!

Can you make oregano pesto? What about a savory oregano infused custard? Does oregano even work without its usual foils, olive oil and lemon?

I had big questions and big plans. But the universe had another lesson in store for me: fresh oregano goes bad. (Duh.)

By the time I was ready to shift my big ideas into gear, my oregano—all (seemingly) 1,000 pounds—was about to turn. And when I say that I was ready to shift my big ideas into gear when I noticed the wilting state of my herbs, I mean that I was ready to cook the following day. Sadly, the oregano couldn’t wait even just 24 hours.

Bamboozled again.

My plans thwarted, I picked through the oregano plucking the healthiest leaves and brainstorming ideas. I’d used my herbs to make chicken and legumes, veggies and fish. Lamb was the next obvious choice, but I had none on hand. So shrimp it would be.

Lemony Oregano Shrimp (can be shared with kids 8+ mos)*, to be exact.

I lined up white wine, butter, salt, pepper and—yes—olive oil and lemons next to my pile of small, fragrant petals. Notice that garlic didn’t make it into my line up. This was out of laziness, but intentional nonetheless. I wanted the oregano flavor to shine and thought that garlic might be a hinderance. I’ve made this dish three times now and have never used garlic. It’s just not necessary.

Anyhow, whether or not you choose to use garlic, this is how it goes:

  • Heat a large skillet coated with a healthy glug of olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter over medium heat.
  • When hot, add the shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, depending on how big your shrimp are, until they just begin to turn pink.
  • Add a splash of white wine (or, if you prefer, fish or chicken broth).
  • Allow the wine to mostly cook off and, when it does, squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.
  • By now, your shrimp should be cooked through and a sauce should have formed. If not, add a little more olive oil and lemon juice and cook for 30 seconds or so while the sauce comes together.
  • Take off of the heat and add fresh oregano. A lot of it. Swirl the pan and toss the shrimp around. You want the retained heat to wilt the oregano, drawing out the flavorful oil.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve! This is great with rice or couscous, both of which I combine with lemon zest, feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and maybe even canned chickpeas for extra protein.

Herb infused custard this is not, but somehow I think you’re not disappointed.

I keep thinking that oregano will reappear in my weekly box of surprise CSA goodies. Alas, I haven’t gotten any since the week I made this for the first time. Instead I’ve been picking up fresh oregano at the farmer’s market. Because now I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have any in the fridge. You know, to combine with lemon and olive oil for roast chicken, grilled fish, stewed beans, greek salad… and shrimp.

*Note: Shrimp are a high allergen food that some recommend withholding from beginner eaters until at least 12-months-old. Current recommendations, including food introduction guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics, have been revised to say that there is no proven benefit to holding off on high allergen foods beyond 4- to 6-months. Though we can feed babies everything beginning at 6 months, I recommend this beginning at 8 months so that parents have some feeding experience under their belt in the case of an allergic reaction. Read more on introducing high allergen foods.

One Response

  1. Suzanne says:

    Yes, I’ve had this problem, too!

    Oregano is also great great great if you use it like cilantro. It’s what makes fish tacos taste so good!

    So try it with a mix of roasted corn/potatoes/spinach/oregano/onion/garlic for a great taco filling or side dish. Or try using it in a slaw: cabbage, scallions, mangos and peppers (if you have), garlic, lime juice, olive oil and oregano.

    For both recipes use much more oregano than you can believe. I’ve used 6-8 “6-inch strips” from the growing oregano, so it was a whole big full handful.

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