Sweet-and-sour, agrodolce, aigre-douce... no matter how you say it, the combination of sweet and sour is a classic. And while in certain cuisines it's a combination most often found with meat recipes, there are many vegetarian iterations of the flavor pairing. The natural flavor of vegetables makes them the perfect canvas to bring out the balance of sweet and sour recipes... and a great choice for something a bit new and different on Meatless Monday.
Start things off with something a bit familiar: sweet-and-sour tofu (depicted top). Sweet and sour dishes are common in American-style Chinese food restaurants, and this version is no different. This recipe uses pineapple as well as store-bought preservative-free sweet-and-sour sauce, which makes it very simple to make on a weeknight. A side of brown rice, and dinner is served!
Image: Ian Sommerville
Sweet and sour is a common combination in Italian cuisine as well. Sicilian caponata is a sweet and sour condiment that can be used to top nearly everything. Made of a combination of eggplant, tomatoes, capers and raisins, caponata can be served hot or cold. The sauce was originally invented to preserve vegetables before refrigeration, which means that should you have this modern convenience, you can keep a big batch on-hand for quick and easy Meatless Monday meals, like whole wheat pasta with caponata.
Image: Eliza Adam
Some sweet and sour combinations come from a bit closer to home. This beet and goat cheese salad may feature a familiar pairing, but the addition of a sweet and sour plum vinaigrette will allow you to see the dish in a new light. Sweet dried plums combine with balsamic vinegar, a condiment that already walks the line between sweet and sour. When associated with that timeless beet and goat cheese combo, it's a surefire winner.
Image: Laura Klein
Sweet and sour isn't limited to savory dishes. This strawberry-rose ice cream gets drizzled with balsamic vinegar for a pairing that's as daring as it is delicious. The addition of a slightly sour element to the dessert only serves to highlight the natural sweetness of the ice cream. The perfect ending to your Meatless Monday meal.
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Top Image: Geoff Peters