It is thought that Italian seasoning was invented in America, not in Italy. This is evidenced by the fact that it is used all over the world except in Italy. In this way, it is similar to other seasoning blends like curry powder in that Indians living in India do not use curry powder despite the fact that it is a blend of Indian spices.
Italian seasoning is a blend of the herbs that show up in many Italian dishes. These herbs include oregano, basil, and marjoram. While these herbs are readily available in Italy, they were not always easy to find in America. As a result, early Italian immigrants needed a way to add their preferred flavors to dishes. Italian seasoning provided exactly that. While its components have become much easier to find in recent years, it still provides an easy way to add multiple herbs to your dishes in one step.
Italian seasoning flavor profile
The flavor of Italian seasoning depends on the herbs used and the ratio of each herb. Both can vary depending on who is making the blend. Some blends are oregano-focused, while the flavor of rosemary may be more pronounced in others. Most blends focus on the piney, earthy notes of oregano and thyme. The sweetness of rosemary and the slightly minty qualities of marjoram are usually kept in the background.
Health benefits of Italian seasoning
The herbs that make up Italian seasoning all contain important nutrients, such as:
- Vitamins: Marjoram, thyme and basil are all good sources of vitamin K. Thyme is the best vitamin K source of the five main herbs in Italian seasoning. These herbs also contain small amounts of vitamin A and vitamin B-6. Rosemary also contains vitamin C at a slightly higher concentration than is usually found in dried herbs.
- Antioxidants: Thymol is an antioxidant contained in both thyme and oregano, but at a higher concentration in thyme.
- Fiber: All of the herbs in Italian seasoning are sources of dietary fiber. Rosemary contains a relatively high amount per teaspoon.
- Minerals: The main herbs in Italian seasoning contain iron. Other minerals that show up in relatively high concentrations include manganese, calcium and magnesium.
Italian seasoning has benefits that include protecting you from illnesses like:
- Gastrointestinal illness: Oregano is just one of the herbs in Italian seasoning that can provide protection from foodborne illness. It has antimicrobial properties that can help to kill harmful bacteria.
- Constipation: The fiber in Italian seasoning can help food to move through the gut more easily.
- Cancer: The fiber in Italian seasoning’s herbs may be beneficial for preventing colorectal cancer and thymol’s antioxidant properties may help with cancer prevention as well.
- Digestion: Several herbs in Italian seasoning are beneficial for digestion. For example, oregano is known to stimulate the release of bile and can also help with bloating. Thyme contains oils that can relieve gas.
Common uses of Italian seasoning
It is important to keep in mind that most traditional Italian recipes will call for only two to three herbs at most. This is one of the reasons that Italian cooks will usually opt for individual herbs rather than a blend. As an American invention, Italian seasoning is best used in the American versions of Italian classics. Use it in a marinara sauce or to make a homemade Italian sausage. Aside from Italian-American dishes, it also works well as an all-purpose seasoning that provides herbal notes in stews and soups.
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