What to Drink on Hot Sticky Day, Chilled Cucumber and Orange Juice from 'Morocco'

After sharing Snails in Spice-Tea Laden Broth recipe from Marrakech 'Djemaa El Fna' excerpted from Morocco 'A Culinary Journey...' (Chronicle Books, June 2012) by Jeff Koehler I thought this (non-alcoholic) drink recipe would be just right as what to drink on a hot sticky day.

Chilled Cucumber and Orange Juice with Oregano

Moroccans love fresh juices, and the combinations they make are eclectic and highly seasonal. This is one of my favorites. Although it is commonly prepared as a juice, it can also be a drinkable dessert, especially on warm summer days. I once had it as a “salad” served with a spoon in late fall in the eastern High Atlas. Oranges hadn’t yet ripened, and instead the cook used small clementines from down the valley. Served before a communal platter of Berber Barley Couscous with Vegetables, the drink seemed closer to a light, sophisticated, vibrant green gazpacho than a rustic salad.

Serves 6

2 lb/910 g medium cucumbers
21⁄4 cups/530 ml fresh orange or mandarin orange juice, preferably clementine
11⁄2 tsp superfine sugar, plus more as needed
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano or zaâtar, plus more as needed

Morocco_Chilled Cucumber and Orange Juice

Trim the ends from the cucumbers and scrub the peels. Remove about half of the peels from each cucumber and remove the seeds if they are large. Cut the cucumber into chunks and put in a food processor or blender. Pour in the orange juice and sprinkle in the sugar and oregano. Blend for at least 1 minute or until very finely puréed. The drink should be a bit thick and slightly foamy. Taste for sweetness and seasoning and adjust as needed.

Pour into a pitcher, cover, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve in tall glasses or in small bowls with spoons.

(* Recipe from 'Morocco' A Culinary Journey with Recipes from the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora by Jeff Koehler-Chronicle Books, June 2012- All rights reserved)

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