Oregano is a welcome weed in my garden. I let it take over a few pots that held plants I didn’t like, and it also grows at the base of some pots. A couple of weeks ago it was hot, and I could not be bothered watering the pots of oregano twice during the day to keep the plants from wilting. Suddenly it occurred to me that if I cut off the long stems that were just beginning to flower, I could dry the leaves, and I would not need to water the plants twice. It was perfect herb-drying weather. So that is what I did.
Home-dried oregano was a revelation in itself for me. A few years ago, I first made a tomato salad described by Tessa Kiros in ‘Apples for Jam’ (p47 – and I just noticed she uses salt where I use pepper – can’t I follow a single recipe properly?). I found it strange that I was instructed to crumble dried oregano over the tomatoes. How could I crumble it? It was already close to dust in the packet I had from the supermarket. I dried my own that Autumn, along with some marjoram, and then I had leaves that could be crumbled, and a special, yet simple, tomato salad became even more special.
In hot weather I am also very lazy with food preparation. The transition to a gluten-free diet has made this more difficult for me. I find salads can be labour-intensive, and in the past I relied on Turkish bread and couscous when preparing heat-free meals on those days when I felt too drained to make an effort. Now my very laziest meal is based on maize couscous. I don’t like the smell, so I put the couscous and water in a plastic container, shake it to mix, shake it again later to fluff it up, then leave it in the fridge until it is time to assemble the food. I also prepare the tomato salad (chopped tomato, crushed garlic clove, olive oil, pepper and crumbled dried oregano) and leave it sitting on the bench for about an hour. So then all that is left to do is wash a few lettuce leaves, open a couple of tins (four bean mix, corn), mix a little avocado with (thawed) lime juice, then pile it on a plate and call it a meal.
Note: I don’t use maize couscous as a substitute for regular couscous in Moroccan-inspired meals – I don’t think the flavours would be compatible.