6 unexpected food pairings that really work

(BPT) - When it comes to food pairings, do you tend to stick with what you know? While the classics are certainly deserving of regular rotation in your meals, if you never think outside of what you know, you're depriving yourself of some tasty twists that could become new favorites.

Challenge your taste buds and you just might be surprised with the results. Consider these six unexpected food pairings that work well together:

Chicken and pancakes

You've heard of chicken and waffles, but now it's time to turn your attention to chicken and pancakes. Conveniently, you can indulge in this tasty twist of sweet and savory right now; IHOP just launched a new Buttermilk Crispy Chicken menu featuring Chicken & Pancakes (as well as seven other brand new crispy chicken menu items, all made with all-natural chicken and a signature seasoning blend). Act fast, though — for a limited time, you can get Chicken & Pancakes for only $6.99. Learn more at www.ihop.com.

French fries PB&J style

You already eat french fries and ketchup. You might have even ventured to try french fries and ice cream. However, if you dare to try french fries with a side of peanut butter as well as jelly, you may think you're in foodie heaven. The warm salty french fries play well against the creamy peanut butter and sweet fruity jam. Dunk a few in and see just how much you enjoy this odd food combination (your kids are sure to enjoy, too).

Avocado and chocolate

Avocado in salads, sandwiches and salsa make for delicious combinations. Avocado and chocolate may not have the same appeal ... until you try it. The creamy taste and smooth texture of avocado is a wonderful combination with sweet chocolate. Plus, packed with healthy fats, avocado is great in many recipes like chocolate pudding or mousse. Looking for an easy way to give this unlikely pair a try? Add some fresh avocado slices to your chocolate smoothie.

Prosciutto and melon

There's something about a sweet and salty combination that has taste buds dancing, but it's not often that meat and fruit satisfy this craving. However, if you give prosciutto and melon a try, you'll likely gobble up the whole plate. This thinly-sliced specialty ham is incredible wrapped around fresh melon cubes such as honeydew. Chop up the fruit and wrap in the chunks for an easy snack at lunch or a fancy appetizer for your next dinner party.

Olive oil topped ice cream

Few people argue the greatness of ice cream, but when you think of toppings, things like chocolate sauce and whipped cream likely come to mind. What about olive oil? Choose a lighter extra virgin olive oil and you'll be shocked just how well it complements the cold creamy ice cream. A drizzle adds a touch of indulgence that elevates plain old vanilla to a surprising new level.

Berries and balsamic vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is great in many recipes and certainly a delicious ingredient in vinaigrette for salads. In addition to enhancing fresh vegetables, it's also a great pair with juicy, sweet berries. This savory vinegar variety brings out the sweet notes of the fruit, making them even more satisfying. Give this unexpected combination a whirl by slicing strawberries and topping with a splash of balsamic vinegar for a yummy snack or tasty side dish.

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