Sometimes food pairings can be just like human relationships—opposites attract. The same way two radically different personalities can bring out the best in each other, two ingredients that seem like they’d be terrible together actually create an unexpected revelation.
We’ve already told you about some flavor combinations that match so well that they rival peanut butter and jelly, so today we want to take you in the opposite direction, through some “odd couple” food pairings so weird that they come all the way back around to delicious.
1. Peanut Butter and Hamburger
(Image: Half Baked Harvest)
It may strike you as weird at first, but substituting a smear of creamy peanut butter on your burger for a more traditional topping makes total sense. Peanut butter combines the saltiness you might otherwise get from a slice of cheese with the sweetness that might come from a sweet relish or ketchup into one surprisingly mouth-watering bite. Seriously, try it.
2. Banana and Ketchup
(Image: Serious Eats)
Speaking of ketchup, did you ever consider combining it with banana? We know, at first the idea sounds… well, kind of bananas. But the starchy, mild flavor of the bananas actually pairs well with the fruity acidity of the tomato to make a new condiment that’s greater than the sum of its parts: this banana ketchup recipe.
3. Strawberry and Tomato
(Image: Spoon Fork Bacon)
Hear us out! Even though they typically show up on opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, tomato and strawberry are both fruits, so they layer delectably in a bright, refreshing, summery dish like gazpacho.
4. Kiwi and Oysters
(Image: This Is Ginger Rose)
The next time you have raw oysters at home, try highlighting their ocean-y flavor with an Arctic Kiwi Jam. Molecular gastronomists have noticed that the kiwi does the same job as a more traditional granita at making the briny oysters sing, and also adds some notes of fruity harmony itself, thanks to the shared molecule methyl hexanoate. It’s science!
5. Vanilla and Scallop
(Image: Food Network)
Scallops are naturally sweet, so it may seem counter-intuitive to pair them with vanilla in lieu of a more savory ingredient, but we promise it works. The warm, mellow vanilla heightens the nutty caramelization of the scallop, especially in this recipe, where Champagne is added to make sure the sauce doesn’t become cloying.
6. Olive and White Chocolate
(Image: Vosges Chocolate)
We already know that salt enhances the taste of sugar, so what’s really so strange about briny olives being used to cut through the buttery, creamy richness of an ingredient like white chocolate? Answer: nothing, as you’ll discover if you get up the guts to try out this recipe for White Chocolate and Olive Panini.
7. Parmesan and Dark Chocolate
(Image: Huffington Post)
But why should white chocolate have all the fun? Dark chocolate and parmesan is another duo that scientists have given their official blessing to, as the ingredients have been shown to share similar compounds in their aromas. If you don’t buy into the science talk, take a bite of this Dark Chocolate Grilled Cheese and just try not to fall in love.
8. Ice Cream and Olive Oil
Continuing along our sweet theme, finally we come to a combination that’s actually intended to be eaten at the end of a meal: olive oil and ice cream. We use olive oil throughout the dessert world, in everything from cakes to mousse to custard, so it’s proven itself, but no preparation could be easier than olive oil and ice cream. You can make it into a gelato as well, of course, but if that sounds too time-intensive, just swirl some extra virgin olive oil into your next scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with some flakes of sea salt. Delicious.
And there you have it! Eight pairs of ingredients that might not have come together intuitively, but which fit together perfectly now that they’ve found each other. Thank goodness for meet-cutes.
Check out this week’s Plated menu, where we have such unlikely but beautiful couplings as Roasted Quail with Salsa Verde!