There’re no two ways about it, sweet and salty food combos bring out the best in a dish. They highlight each ingredient’s character and unify them at the same time. From making veggies shine to intensifying the flavor of meat, combining both ends of the spectrum really lends to something special.
That said, pairing the right foods to make sure they complement each other can be a bit tricky – it’s important to play to each ingredient’s strength. So that’s why we’ve searched through our recipe database to find you eight sweet and salty recipes that are sure to tickle your tastebuds.
Why do sweet and salty foods go so well together?
The marriage of savory and sweet is one that seems like it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. Both flavors dance in harmony in our mouths and send happy messages to our brains. But, what’s the reason behind all this?
To give a bit of background, let’s first talk about taste. We have five primary ones – salty, sweet, bitter, sour and the newly discovered umami (a Japanese concept meaning “pleasantly savory”). The reason why our taste buds even exist is because our bodies, our very clever bodies, use taste to stay healthy and avoid trouble.
For example, when we taste sweetness, we’re attracted to it because it’s synonymous with energy-rich carbs that will provide fuel for our bodies. Tasting saltiness is key in making sure we supply our bodies with enough function-enhancing sodium. Picking up on sourness or bitterness, on the other hand, is usually a sign that something could be harmful or spoiled.
Another reason for our innate love of mixing sweet and salty foods is the fact that humans are mostly omnivorous. We enjoy a variety of foods and get bored of singular (i.e. bland) flavors, so mixing both is a safe bet. That, coupled with “flavor layering,” a term used by chefs to describe when salt enhances more flavors and activates sweetness receptors in the brain, ends up providing our brains with a positive biological response.
8 Healthy sweet and salty recipes from 8fit
We’re already salivating over here, so let’s get started with some 8fit recipes that’ll satisfy your sugar and salt craving without harming your health. You’ll find a bunch of tasty mains that are upgraded with the perfect sweet notes.
Apple & cheddar grilled cheese sandwich
It’s not a surprise that this simple 4-ingredient grilled cheese is popular in the app. It combines two favorites from the sweet and savory corners – apple and cheese. The cheese brings out the sweetness of the apple, and the spread of mustard intensifies the cheese. That’s what we call a symbiotic relationship!
Lentil salad with strawberry dressing
The feta cheese lends creamy saltiness and the strawberries add that juicy sweetness. Together, they work magic by giving the whole dish a well-rounded flavor, with the lentils and chickpeas making the dish a satiating lunch option. You’ll be surprised about the strawberries, the fresh lime and mint marinade really makes them pop.
Grapefruit, arugula & prosciutto salad
Four ingredients and five minutes later, you’re left with a balanced salad that’s bursting with freshness. The jury’s out on whether grapefruit really is on the sweet side, but in this meal, its fruitiness is offset by the savory taste of the prosciutto. Top with sunflower seeds to add to the texture, and combine with arugula for a peppery back note.
Seared salmon with rosemary grapes
The sweet grapes spiked with rosemary are responsible for bringing the juiciness to this fish dish. Try to use a piece of fresh salmon, and don’t worry about leaving the skin on – though it contains more fat, it’s the good kind. There’s a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in it, which is used in nature to keep the salmon warm in the ocean. Just make sure to use good quality fish, to reduce your risk of mercury contamination.
Orange, walnut, and cottage cheese salad
It’s not a salad you’re used to seeing on a restaurant menu, but the combination of ingredients will pleasantly surprise you. The walnuts and cottage cheese taste yummy and keep you satisfied until your next meal, while the orange-mint garnish adds a fresh spin on the whole dish. Added bonus: It only takes seven minutes to prepare.
Lamb tajine with cauliflower couscous
Tajines are a type of slow-cooked stew from North Africa that combine meat with fresh veggies or fruit. Nuts, dried fruit and spices are also often included the dish, and the slow cooking allows all the flavors to marry and create an umami base for the rest of the ingredients. The clever sweet and salty food combination is characteristic of Moroccan and Algerian tajines.
Chicken with zucchini noodles
Chicken and pineapple is a classic sweet and salty food combination that’s used all over the world. From sweet and sour chicken to Hawaiian pizza, the pair has got some history together. In this dish, the chicken and pineapple are cooked in an Asian-style garlic soy sauce and served with zucchini ribbons, or “zoodles”.
Coconut shrimp with mango
Are you ready for a bowl full of tropical flavors? Coconut, shrimp, and mango come together beautifully. The shrimp is coated in desiccated coconut, and oven-baked until crispy. Add them to your big bowl of fruity salad and drizzle in a chili-lime dressing.