Unusual food pairings that really work

Getting a little crafty in the kitchen and marrying-up unusual flavours will open doors to new taste sensations.

On the never-ending quest for recipe inspiration, it’s often easy to lean on tried and tested, crowd-pleasing flavour combinations such as leek and potato, lamb and rosemary, strawberries and cream – the list goes on.

But getting a little crafty in the kitchen and marrying-up unusual flavours can open doors to new taste sensations that might just surprise you (and your dinner guests).

We’ve pulled together a short list of food combos that have captured our attention – together simple tips for growing the ingredients at home – that might just change the way you think about perfect pairs in the kitchen.

Mango and chilli
Mango and chilli presents the ultimate ying and yang flavour combination with cool sweetness giving way to fiery finish.

Travellers to Mexico or Vietnam would no doubt have stumbled across street food vendors making this sweet-and-spicy flavour combo dance on their tastebuds.

More locally, those who like it hot will be pleased to know chillies are a cinch to grow – lapping up the WA sunshine and growing all year ‘round. Sow directly into your garden bed in free-flowing soil enriched with compost or manure.

Remember, no mango and chilli recipe is complete without a generous squeeze of lime and a good pinch of salt – super-charging this unique flavour mash-up.

Get cooking:
Barbecue barramundi with mango, chilli and avocado salsa
Barbecue prawns with chilli lemongrass sambal and mango pickle

Strawberry and basil
Combining fruit and herbs may not always stand out as culinary genius, but there’s a heap of delicious flavour pairings if you get a little creative. 

Plant strawberries in autumn to give them the best possible start, choosing a sunny but sheltered location with a rich, organic soil – ideally boosted with compost.

Turning basil seeds or seedlings into flourishing plants calls for well-drained soil, warm temperatures, plenty of sunlight and watering often when warm. But the effort’s worth it.

Basil’s peppery goodness does a top job complementing the oh-so-sweetness of plump strawberries – delivering a flavour twist that’ll impress at your next garden party. In fact, swapping out mint for basil in your next batch of strawberry lemonade may have your guests glancing sideways for all the right reasons.

Tomato and purslane
If you’re loving your home-grown tomato vine but looking for new ways to help them shine – one flavour companion could already be growing in your own yard.

Purslane – or pigweed – is an edible summer weed as common across WA as it is the rest of the world. With use dating back to the ancient Persians, purslane offers a truly unique flavour with added kicks of vitamin A, B and C.

Fleshy and tart young shoots add tang to any salad, or wrap in foil and steam on the barbecue then serve with butter and salt and pepper as greens on the side.

For Kleenheat Kitchen guest chef Guy Jeffreys, all you need is a handful of this wonder-weed, some nice firm tomatoes, a pinch of salt and pepper and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Voila!

Get cooking: Guy Jeffreys’ tomato and purslane salad

Chocolate and avocado
Don’t laugh – it actually works! As one of nature’s superfoods, avocados are chock-full of healthy mono-unsaturated fats, vitamins C and E, fibre and potassium – so keep spreading, slicing and smashing it for toast and salads.

But if you want to grow avocados at home, all you need is just a little patience. Timeframes for avocado trees fruiting depends on the variety being grown, but keep in mind we’re talking years, not months.

In the meantime, grab a few from the local farmer’s market and pair with the best quality chocolate you can afford. Brought together with love, this unique pairing delivers the kind of rich, velvety goodness that’s perfect for vegan-friendly chocolate mousse or brownies.

If your mouth’s watering and imagination is running wild – head along to the Kleenheat Kitchen at the 2019 Perth Garden Festival for more flavour combinations from our guest chefs plus tips for growing top-notch produce at home.

Kleenheat exclusive – 50% off Perth Garden Festival tickets

We’ve dug up a great deal! Kleenheat customers can enjoy 50% off PGF tickets by simply selecting the Kleenheat member special when placing an order online. Order your tickets.