It’s difficult to think of anything better than relaxing and entertaining on your backyard deck or patio with friends and family, right?

One of the only drawbacks is that I tend to fall into a recipe rut, which is boring for everyone.

That’s why I’ve been on a Moroccan food kick lately.

Never eaten Moroccan food? Here are some of the basics and then a few very easy recipes you can try.

Moroccan Food: The Basics

Morocco is located on the northwest African coast, near Spain and Portugal. Over the centuries, cooks in Moroccan kitchens distilled the different ingredients from neighboring countries into what we now know as Moroccan food.

The taste? A nice blend of sweet and savory.

Moroccan Spices

Moroccan Spices

Thanks to spice traders who made their way across Africa and the Middle East, Moroccan food is infused with a unique spice blend, including saffron, cinnamon, cumin, ground ginger, paprika, and sesame seeds. Also present in a well-stocked Moroccan kitchen are cilantro, phyllo dough, chick-peas, olives, honey, preserved lemons and couscous.

The bright hues and taste of the spices perfectly reflect the unique, multi-colored designs on Moroccan dishware and pottery, which varies depending upon where it was produced.

Rustic, earth-toned pottery comes from northern Berber villages, dishes inlaid with metal or covered tightly with leather is produced by artisans in Safi, and very distinctive blue and white pottery is created in Fes.

Beautiful Moroccan plates

Beautiful Moroccan plates

You can find out more about Moroccan pottery by clicking here

Moroccan Recipes: Mains and Sides

Now, on to the fun part: Moroccan recipes!

When I started, I began with this simple marinade, which is loaded with herbs and spices.

I’ve used it with chicken, lamb and pork. It was delicious with all three, though pork isn’t served in Morocco.

I’ve also tried the two following Moroccan recipes. The first is Moroccan Eggplant Salad, which you can serve hot or cold with pita chips.

Eggplant salad

Eggplant salad

The second features couscous and is called Herby Moroccan Couscous with Citrus and Pomegranate dressing. It’s vegetarian, goes nicely with lamb chops or steak and is a nice change from the standard starches of corn or potatoes.

Moroccan Desserts

Let’s move on to desserts, the “sweetest” part of any meal.

For something easy to prepare and relatively healthy, there’s nothing like Honey Cinnamon Oranges. Yes, it’s a little sticky, but trust me when I say that you won’t mind giving your hands an extra rinse.

The second dessert recipe is called Moroccan Sweet Couscous, filled with delicious almonds, raisins, orange juice and dates. Believe me when I say you’ll feel as if you’ve been magically transported when you taste it.

Want to learn more? Check out Paula Wolfert’s book, The Food of Morocco, available on Amazon.com.

Bon Appetit!