Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

The Olive Oil Hunter News #149

Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Potatoes and Foolproof Scrambled Eggs Recipes, Spotlight on Urfa Chili and Oregano Pearls, Measuring Spices, Plus Spices and Your Health

The saying goes that, for better health, eat dinner like a pauper and breakfast like a king or queen. There are even research studies to support the idea: because breakfast prompts increased calorie burn, it can be helpful for staying at or losing weight. Of course, we don’t need science to tell us that breakfast can be delicious, too, and I’m sharing two of my favorite recipes to prove it. They feature spices that I like to source from the magical land of Turkey—oregano and black Urfa chili—and they truly elevate this classic eggs-and-potatoes meal. 

Roasted Potatoes

  • Roasted Potatoes Roasted Potatoes

    Fragrant and richly hued, yellow rice takes the standard side dish and elevates it. This recipe gets another taste boost from the green peas. 


    • 2 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into roughly 2-inch cubes
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon Black Urfa Chili
    • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt


    Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 450°F. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the oil, spices, and salt. Roast for 50 minutes, flipping the potatoes and rotating the pan after 25 minutes. Taste and season with more spices as desired. 

    Yields 4 servings

Foolproof Scrambled Eggs

  • Scrambled Eggs Foolproof Scrambled Eggs

    A properly preheated frying pan makes fast work of scrambled eggs that stay tender. Black Urfa chili adds just the right amount of zest to the finished dish while the oregano adds brightness.


    • 8 large or extra-large eggs
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • Black Urfa Chili and dried oregano


    Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and then the beaten eggs. Let the edges firm for a few seconds, then lower the heat and use a spatula to scramble the eggs, drawing the outer edges in and keeping them moving to prevent browning. Take off the heat just before fully set and let sit for two minutes to finish cooking. Season to taste with the black Urfa chili and oregano, then drizzle with olive oil. 

    Yields 4 servings

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Burrata

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Urfa Chili and Oregano

Black Urfa Chili

Black Urfa Chili (Capsicum annuum) takes its name from the ancient southeast town of Urfa, Turkey, where local farmers grow it in the surrounding hills. In many areas of that country, Urfa chili, also known as Urfa biber, is as common on the dinner table as cracked black peppercorns are here, and it has been for centuries. These peppers are red and shaped like bell peppers, but they pack a taste that a bell pepper can only dream of! 

Urfa peppers magically turn maroon as they ripen. Then, unlike most peppers that are simply dried after harvest, they go through a double process—sun dried by day and tightly wrapped at night, a technique that preserves their oil content, enriches their flavor, and deepens their color to a purple-black. They’re then stone ground into small flakes with some sea salt and sunflower seed oil to further enhance their texture and rich, complex flavor profile—the deep heat of cayenne without the sharpness. 

Why you should have this spice in your kitchen: Black Urfa chili adds sweet smokiness to all Middle Eastern dishes, and it’s especially delicious on boreks,koftis, kebabs, and other grilled meats, and on veggies. It’s equally good in many other cuisines—think French stew or an all-American chili. Include it in wet or dry rubs for proteins, especially pork. It will enliven your favorite salad dressings, jazz up scrambled or fried eggs, and add extra depth and a hint of heat to brownies, blondies, hot chocolate, and even a scoop of chocolate ice cream.

Oregano Pearls

Oregano’s popularity among American cooks is relatively recent. Legend has it that GIs returning from World War II brought back their new love of pizza, liberally sprinkled with the herb, and its use here exploded. Though closely associated with classic dishes of southern Italy, oregano (Origanum vulgare) is an essential in cuisines throughout the Mediterranean region. It’s also popular in Latin America as well as Mexico, and it is the perfect herb for chile-based dishes. But know that what’s labeled “Mexican oregano” is actually a member of the Verbenaceae family and not a true oregano (it’s also much sharper). 

Oregano was first cultivated in Greece. Mine comes from Denizli, Turkey, located in the heart of the Aegean region, just a few hours’ drive from the sea. The country is known for growing prized oregano—indeed, Turkey satisfies more than half of global demand. Dried oregano is typically made from the leaves, but my Curated Culinary Selections’ oregano “pearls” (complete with a grinder) are the tiny buds of the oregano flowers. And timing is everything: They’re handpicked before they have a chance to bloom and then are air dried. This special process gives them a bright flavor and makes them perfect for grinding as needed.

Why you should have this spice in your kitchen: Perfect in tomato- and meat-based sauces and bold pasta dishes, oregano is also wonderful when paired with garlic—for the best garlic bread, brush slices with fresh-pressed extra virgin olive oil and top with a few grinds of oregano pearls before they go into the oven. Flat breads and focaccia will benefit, too. Oregano adds great flavor to grilled fish, roasted chicken, and all kinds of meat, especially lamb (kebabs and patties in particular), and to your favorite chili recipe. Beyond pasta and pizza, sprinkle it on Greek salad,omelets, frittatas, roasted potatoes, and even fries. 

For Your Best Health: Imperfect calorie counting may be good enough

For Your Best Health

Spices and Your Health 

As with all chile peppers, at the heart of black Urfa chili’s heat is capsaicin, the naturally occurring compound that determines how sweet or hot a pepper is. Capsaicin has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, so it may help protect against infection, improve digestion, and possibly one day have a role in anti-cancer therapies. According to a report published in the journal Molecules, there’s some evidence that eating hot pepper, like Urfa chili, every day helps curb hunger and may even lead to a higher calorie burn rate. Research is underway to figure out the best daily amount, but in the meantime you can test out the theory yourself. 

Oregano is one of the most widely used botanicals in herbal medicine, thanks to its high concentration of plant nutrients. Phytochemical compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids give it the triumvirate of health benefits: antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Sipping a tea made from dried oregano, for instance, can calm an upset stomach or a cough. It’s also being looked at to help stave off diabetes—researchers at the University of Illinois found that it disrupts a diabetes-related enzyme and merits serious investigation. It may also boost liver health. 

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rinsing Lettuce

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Measuring Out Spices

While measuring spoons are the tried-and-true way most people measure quantities, you might find more and more references to gram weights for ingredients in recipes. That’s because weight can be more precise than volume, especially when measuring whole spices that don’t fit perfectly in a spoon. An electronic scale with a bright digital readout will be a great addition to your kitchen gadgets. 

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