Do not buy the dessicated bottles in the supermarket! They are overpriced and usually not very good quality. Fresh is good, or buy dried from a place like Penzey’s and keep it in a cool dry place. You’ll find marjoram mainly in Italian and French inspired dishes.
I use marjoram for this recipe, which I really like:
Spaghetti with Sauteed Onions, Feta and Herbs
8 oz. spaghetti (dry measure)
2 TB Meyer lemon olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rings
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender and beginning to brown, adding salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the marjoram, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cooked pasta and toss with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten. Toss with the feta cheese. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve.
I only use marjoram dried, as that’s how it’s generally used in Eastern and Central European cooking. For me, marjoram is a characteristic flavor of certain cuisines in that region, and is used in soups (white borscht, pea, and tripe soup, in particular), sausages, bean stews, pork dishes, stuffed cabbage, etc. It’s probably the most widely used dried herb in Poland. Marjoram and oregano are two herbs where I don’t really think the fresh is better mantra applies. They have different flavors dried and fresh and uses for each.
Oregano and marjoram are both fairly easy to grow at home. You can grow them in pots on an apartment balcony. Unless you live in a desert or a seasonally dry climate (like California), you don’t even have to water them very often. You can get herb plants at your local home and garden store. If you have kids, they’ll probably love planting the herbs and bringing in sprigs for cooking.
I grew some oregano last year. I’ll see when the snow finally melts if it survived the winter (we are having an unusually harsh winter this year). I’ll plant my new herbs once we get past the last frost date for Pittsburgh, which is in mid-to-late May. silenus could probably go out and plant herbs now, if s/he wanted to.
Great stuff !! So, were I inclined, I could grow the stuff. It isn’t toxic. Will the eager curious kitties eat it all anyway? Perhaps a windowbox hanging from wires near the top of the window, so the plants can grow and the cats can’t eat.
Until I set about growing, I’ll stick to McCormick. Fallen Angel, using dried lavender is new to me. Gotta look into that. Pork, eh?
I don’t think I’ve ever really bought into the whole “fresh is best” thing in regard to spices…with some exceptions. Dried cilantro, for instance, is absolutely worthless. But even dried basil has a characteristic, usable flavor. No, it’s nothing like fresh basil (and is inferior to it), but it does have a flavor. Dried oregano, marjoram, etc. can be used very successfully.
My rule is fresh for the delicate herbs like parsley, cilantro, chervil, dill, tarragon, basil, etc. Dried herbs are good for the more “earthy” or “woody” herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc. Fresh versions of those herbs work well, too, but have a different taste. I’m going to have to disagree a bit about the basil – while it’s certainly better than the dried forms of herbs like parsley and cilantro, I can’t really say I’ve ever found a good reason to use dried basil.