Fruit And Beans Are The Unexpected Pair You'll Want To Savor

The age-old adage that opposites attract applies to more than just relationships. In the culinary world, it's almost a matter of fact. However, even in a world of opposing yet complementary flavors, fruit and beans are an unexpected pair. Still, it's a pairing you'll want to explore.

Fruit ranges from sweet and starchy to tart and juicy, not to mention each fruit's unique tasting notes. Beans likewise encompass a wide range of flavors, from the vegetal green bean to the creamy, earthy black bean. But since the thought of adding chunks of watermelon to your black bean soup likely sounds less than appetizing, you'll need to be specific with fruit and bean pairings.

Fruits are popular additions to hearty green salads, fall-inspired vegetable purees, and pizzas, demonstrating their compatibility with savory dishes. And some longstanding culinary traditions have combined fruit and beans. Take, for instance, the addition of pineapple to barbecue baked beans.  Fruits also come dried, dehydrated, canned, and juiced, providing a wealth of textures to complement soft and creamy beans. You can use dried fruit to top bean salads, fresh tropical fruits in salsas, and pureed fruit or preserves in spicy and savory bean stews and soups. The vast variety of fruits and beans will supply you with dozens of new combinations to spice up a boring or repetitive weekly menu.

Ideas for fruit and bean pairings

Bean and fruit pairings are uncharted territory for some, but you'll be surprised at how many delicious combinations are at your fingertips. For instance, pineapple isn't just a popular addition to baked beans, but a deliciously juicy, tart and sweet mix-in for a black bean and corn salsa. Chunks of mango, coconut, and kiwi would also work in Mexican black bean salsas. Or you could use mango to sweeten up a bowl of spicy black bean soup or chili, while coconut milk would provide a decadent creaminess. Another popular addition to Caribbean and Latin American rice and bean dishes is sweet plantains. If you don't have plantains, you can fry up regular bananas to serve alongside a dish of Cuban arroz congri or Costa Rican gallo pinto.

Chickpeas offer a nuttiness that goes well with dried cranberries; pair the two in an Italian chop salad with pine nuts and feta. Cranberries take hummus to a new dimension, as well — so would fresh pomegranate arils or pomegranate molasses. A green bean salad, on the other hand, would taste delicious with fresh slices of peach and avocado.

For fall-inspired bean and fruit combinations, try adding baked pears to a white bean soup with sage. Apples and bacon make the perfect sweet and savory complement to a pot of great northern bean stew. You can also toss French lentils in an orange juice-based vinaigrette or squeeze orange, lemon, or lime juice into bean salsas, salads, and soups.