What are some savory vegetables that can be prepared like sweet fruit?
September 19, 2013 8:25 PM   Subscribe

What are some savory vegetables that can be prepared like sweet fruit? And vice versa?

For example, sweet potatoes can be roasted with salt and pepper, or they can be prepared with brown sugar as a sweet potato casserole. There's carrot cake and zucchini bread. And apples can be paired with pork, and pineapple with ham. Some meatballs have raisins in them!

What are some more unusual examples that I haven't mentioned? I love savory/sweet meals.
posted by minerthreat to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 70 users marked this as a favorite
Related concept: strawberries and tomatoes can often be substituted for one another.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:27 PM on September 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

uncooked shredded Cabbage with shredded carrots apples and raisins is pretty yummy.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:29 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pumpkin pie
Sweet corn (I've had it in ice cream, but adding kernels to really honeyed cornbread is also awesome)
Hot pepper jelly
posted by phunniemee at 8:30 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Acorn squash tastes lovely split in half, seeded, and filled with a butter, brown sugar, walnut mixture.
posted by juliplease at 8:32 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Parsnips can go either way (similar to carrots but sweeter)
Ditto beets, you can make them sweet-sweet-sweet or pickled, salted, etc
Fennel+apple salad
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:33 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love making a caprese salad with peaches in place of the tomatoes.

Prunes and other dried fruit often make sauces for meats.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:37 PM on September 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Cucumbers with a little vinegar and sugar. Broccoli slaw (raisins and such to sweeten). Celery with a nut butter. Avocado with anything. Asian apple with salt. Orange in a salad. Green apple and nut butter.
posted by icanbreathe at 8:37 PM on September 19, 2013

I have never tried it, but sauerkraut cake is a thing.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:39 PM on September 19, 2013

Beetroot chocolate cake is also a thing.
posted by Youremyworld at 8:43 PM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Apricots cooked with chicken is a classic combo in both European/American and North African cuisines.
Similar idea: chicken a l'orange.
Fruit chutneys used as a condiment meat are based on this kind of flavor package.
posted by third rail at 8:46 PM on September 19, 2013

Watermelon, feta, red onion, mint salad.
posted by SugarAndSass at 8:56 PM on September 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Grilled peaches with pork.. . or with anything.
Red velvet cake was originally made with real beets for sweetness due to a sugar shortage.

Also some Australians put pineapple on hamburgers, and it tastes amazing, but then we also have been known to put beetroot and egg in there with it.

Tomato Jam.

Pretty many chutneys fall into this area as they can be made with vegetables or fruit.

Prunes stuffed with an almond and cheese and wrapped with bacon.

Pumpkin scones.

My SIL does the most delicious white potatoes cooked in sugar so they get a coating of caramel.
posted by wwax at 9:06 PM on September 19, 2013

Years ago my mother made eggplant jam - not the spicy kind, but normal sweet jam like the kind you make from strawberries. It was really, really delicious.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:24 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sicilian cooking often combines raisins or currants, pinenuts, saffron, tomato passata, and meat, fish or starch.
Expanding on third rail's theme, you'd probably like tagines with meat and dried fruit (apricots, raisins, currants, golden raisins, dates, figs), spiced with ras el hanout (itself a mix of sweet and savory spices, usually including cinnamon, clove, cardamom, powdered chiles, cumin, coriander, and turmeric). You don't really need a tagine pot, pretty though they are - a covered pot will do if you use the stovetop, and a casserole with a snug lid for the oven. (Note that of course, Sicily sits between Italy and Northern Africa - those raisins didn't come out of nowhere.)
My mother liked to serve strawberries with sour cream and brown sugar. Her father ate his canteloupe or honeydew with pepper and salt.
And my favorite watering hole makes a delicious steak sandwich with caramelized onion jam. (Also the classic burger with beetroot, but that's an acquired taste.)
posted by gingerest at 10:19 PM on September 19, 2013

Persian rice with cherries
Afghan roasted pumpkin with garlic-yogurt sauce
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:23 PM on September 19, 2013

My grandma makes ham with a raisin sauce. I'm pretty sure it's just raisins + brown sugar + water + cornstarch.

My grandparents also eat their cantaloupe and watermelon with salt and pepper.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 11:08 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Apples or grapes go well with cheese. This concept can be take to a whole other level.
posted by neilb449 at 11:29 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Melon with prosciutto.
posted by misozaki at 11:35 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Strawberries with balsamic vinegar is a great combination, as is watermelon with feta.
posted by contraption at 12:00 AM on September 20, 2013

Cauliflower gets wonderfully sweet when roasted. Break into florets and toss in oil to coat. Throw in a medium-to-hot (350-400F/180-200C) oven for... I can't remember how long, 25 minutes?. It roasts unevenly; that's life-- get some golden, some dark, some pale, but the sugars are caramelizing in there, and it's tasty. Add a little salt and acid.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:57 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Others have already mentioned pumpkins; I tend to think of pumpkin as more savoury than sweet, but it depends on where you live. If you are used to it being sweet, then some other savoury uses are as pasta filling, or roasted and used in risotto.

Courgette/zucchini is lovely in sweet sponge cake, much like carrot cake. With lime curd between the layers and sour cream icing.... yum.

Lots of ice creams can use savoury veg. Pea and mint, for example. Or beetroot.

Not precisely a vegetable, but Guinness is great in chocolate cake.

I have heard of, but never tried, strawberry risotto.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 2:19 AM on September 20, 2013

carmelized onions with anything.
posted by empath at 2:20 AM on September 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

If the idea of matching fruit and savoury foods appeals, I'd recommend getting a copy of The Flavour Thesaurus. The whole book is full of unusual combinations (examples, but not recipes) - rather than break sections into, say, fruit or vegetable, its chapters are by flavour - so in its spectrum tomato and strawberry are next to one another (per Sticherbeast above) and blueberry sits alongside coriander seed.

For example, the section on cherry, within its "fresh fruity" chapter (as opposed to "creamy fruity" (banana, peach etc), "citrussy", "bramble & hedge" (juniper, blackcurrant etc) or "floral fruity": cherry + goat's cheese; lamb; smoked fish

Going the other way, and answering your question:

- Parsnip + banana; hard cheese; bacon - in all cases using the sweetness and earthiness of parsnip where one might ordinarily use a fruit

- Carrot + cardamom (e.g gajar halwa); coconut

- Cucumber + anise (confectionery - apparently research found the combo to be arousing to women!); with rhubarb and salt to accompany salmon

In truth, few vegetables (as opposed to herbs, where there are lots of sweet combos) really lend themselves to use as substitutes for fruits in the sense of providing the main flavour or ballast in a sweet dish - the ones that do are the usual suspects listed above - sitting just along the spectrum from nuts ("woodland" - also includes butternut squash, alongside "spicy", which includes carrot and parsnips) or in "earthy" (beetroot, potato and others) - zucchini and cucumber are about the only other ones. But lots of fruits lend themselves brilliantly to combinations even seasoned amateur cooks wouldn't ordinarily think of. Which is why many of the examples are sweet things used in savoury dishes.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:27 AM on September 20, 2013 [9 favorites]

Green tomatoes can be used to make delicious vegetarian mincemeat for mincemeat pies, cookies, etc.

And non-vegetarian mincemeat contains actual meat and suet, but is still a sweet dish (I know you're asking about fruits and vegetables, but I thought I'd throw in that example of Beef! It's What's For Dessert!")

On the fruit spectrum, figs can be used for either sweet or savory dishes (I was reminded of figs because mincemeat cookies are similar to fig newtons in their texture/flavor profile).
posted by drlith at 2:50 AM on September 20, 2013

When I went to South Korea there were cans of sweet, carbonated tomato juice sold alongside other fruit soft drinks.

I have never tried it, but I have heard good things about courgette cake.

You might also find some good examples from historical foodstuffs - the Tudors in particular were very fond of mixing sweet and savoury, and the Romans were fond of meat with sweet things as well (and there are probably many other examples!).
posted by gnimmel at 2:58 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just added blanched cauliflower to a sweet salad the other day. Dried cranberries and a tiny bit of cheese, some candied nuts and a sweet dressing. It was good because I'm too much of a doofus to spear hard veggies in a salad bowl, blanched are easier to chew and, less farting. Everybody wins.

Broccoli with oranges, slivered almonds, and carrots is also good. Crispy if you don't overcook the broccoli, and it can be as sweet as you want to make it.
posted by bilabial at 3:14 AM on September 20, 2013

I love this thread!
The other day, I had a chanterelle dessert - it was good, but I have no idea how they made it. Maybe one should just experiment? Suddenly I want to try to make a green-pea ice-cream.
I came in to say what gnimmel said: look at historical recipes, through a random google-search I found this site about medieval cooking
Our favorite summer salad is lettuce with blueberries and cucumber or raspberries and cucumber, with a cream and lemon dressing (1/2 cup cream, 1 or 2 teaspoons lemon, salt and pepper)
posted by mumimor at 4:06 AM on September 20, 2013

Some ideas from The Flavor Thesaurus (which I recommend):

Blue cheese and pear.
Fig balsamic vinegar.
Mango and cumin (or chili).
Apricot and pork.
Coca-Cola glaze for meat.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:39 AM on September 20, 2013

Mashed potato makes for a delicious, light and fluffy cake. I often use it when baking gluten free. (see also: sweet potato for similar, black (or kidney) bean brownies)
posted by halcyonday at 4:42 AM on September 20, 2013

Avocado with condensed milk is a Filipino dessert.
posted by mdrew at 5:45 AM on September 20, 2013

Watermelon curry is surprisingly delicious.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:01 AM on September 20, 2013

black (or kidney) bean brownies

Oh hey, yeah, all sorts of bean-based desserts out there! Azuki beans are probably used for sweets more than savory dishes, and then there's all those gluten free recipes out there with black/white/kidney beans and chickpeas and some of that stuff is great enough to stand on its own rather than as a "substitution" recipe. Traditional chickpea flour desserts, too.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:26 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have made:
Avocado ice cream
Tomato soup chocolate cake
Lasagna with lots of nutmeg
posted by bq at 7:42 AM on September 20, 2013

Instead of apples, cook bell pepper and onion with you pork chops, then throw in a goodly quantity of halved grapes the last few minutes of cooking.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:58 AM on September 20, 2013

My grandmother makes a tomato spice cake. It is delicious.
posted by darchildre at 8:31 AM on September 20, 2013

I thought pepper jelly sounded totally gross until I tried it. It's amazing with cream cheese on a cracker!
posted by radioamy at 9:37 AM on September 20, 2013

Plantains are all over the place
posted by kmennie at 9:53 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ooh ooh ooh I remembered another one! Roasted garlic ice cream. You have to really, really like garlic. If you really, really like garlic it is basically the best food ever.
posted by gnimmel at 10:05 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Candy cap mushroom ice cream.
posted by judith at 10:58 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

One popular preparation of grapes is to ferment them for wine. You would not believe the vegetables you can make wine out of.

In addition to stand-bys such as grape, black cherry, pear, plum, apple, watermelon, blackberry, strawberry, mulberry, and elderberry wine, my mother would also make:

* Yellow tomato wine (I don't have her recipe with me at work, but you can find one online here)
* Eggplant wine (recipe)
* Dandelion wine (I posted my mom's dad's recipe here when Ray Bradbury died)
* Corn wine (recipe)
* Onion wine (recipe)
* Pumpkin wine (recipe)
* Pine needle wine, from a recipe she claimed was a regional one that originated with none other than Rebecca (Mrs. Daniel) Boone.

You can see a whole slew of recipes for what my mama called "country wines" here. They are not her recipes, mind you, but the tradition of making wine from vegetables is still out there.

Don't know if you're into home wine-making, but thought I'd bring that perspective.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:33 AM on September 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

Harder to find but parsley roots are sweeter than carrots and have a great delicate flavor.

Not shaped like carrots but kohlrabi have a similar texture and sweetness.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:00 PM on September 20, 2013

Speaking of weird wine, a guy in Duluth, MN makes wine out of army worms in infestation years. I suppose they would be savory when raw, but I wouldn't want to try.
posted by Comet Bug at 8:57 PM on September 20, 2013

« Older What is the cord for?   |   The State of the WWE: Pretty Good or Purified... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.