Every year on Valentine's Day, my husband and I absolutely love to share a fondue dinner. This has become a tradition ever since we started dating years ago. While sometimes we go out for fondue, we really love to stay in and make it at home.
Fondue is the ultimate Valentine`s Day Menu; everything about it says `Valentine`! Why? Well, for starters, let`s talk about the ingredients. To me, anything with gooey melted cheese or silky chocolate is a winner for a romantic meal (obviously!) - fondue has both!
Besides the ingredients, there is the process. When participating in a fondue meal, each morsel of food must be dipped or cooked prior to eating. As a result, it is impossible to scarf down your food in 10 minutes! It must be savored and enjoyed - leading to a long evening of conversation, bonding and laughs. Most of all, it makes us appreciate and just enjoy each other`s company. With everyone being busy these days, as well as so many technological distractions in our lives, most couples don`t take the time to sit for hours and just talk. This is a meal that will make you do that without even realizing it! I challenge you to share a fondue meal with your partner and not feel just a little bit closer afterwards!
Here is my formula for a winning do-it-yourself 3 course fondue meal at home:
Course 1: Cheese Fondue.
I am absolutely obsessed with cheese - well cheese anything, so a cheese fondue for me is an absolute must! Is there really anything better than baguette dipped in melted cheese? I didn`t think so!
Here is my recipe for a Classic Cheese Fondue that is just delicious! I have to admit though, that I often use store bought fondue cheese and focus more of my energy on the dippers. Here is a great list of some traditional and not so traditional items to have for dipping into your cheese fondue.
- Baguette cut into cubes (this one is essential!)
- Fresh Apple Slices
- Fresh Pear Slices
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Tortilla Chips
- Roasted Cauliflower or Broccoli Florets
- Boiled Tortellini or Ravioli
- Pickled Onions
- Cooked Baby Potatoes
- Roasted Asparagus
For the second course I like to do a typical Chinese Fondue with lots of veggies and tofu to dip in a sizzling vegetable broth. I also like to serve a variety of dipping sauces to coat the veggies.
This is how we eat: Place a veggie or two on your fondue fork, dip in boiling broth until cooked and then immediately dip in a sauce of choice.
Here are some of the veggies I like to have available (all should be raw):
- Broccoli florets
- Red Onions, peeled and quartered
- Cauliflower florets
- Snap Peas
- Baby Carrots
- Mushrooms, halved
- Zucchini, cut into large chunks
- Asparagus Spears
- Cubes of tofu, lightly fried
- Brussel Sprouts, halved
For the Broth:
Here is a super sneaky way to make a flavourful veggie broth while you are preparing your meal. Take a pot of water and place it on your stove over medium heat. As you are prepping your veggies for the fondue, all the waste goes straight in to the pot. For example, your onion peel, carrot / zucchini stems / tough bottom ends of the asparagus etc... all of it! As you are prepping simply drop them into the pot of boiling water! Cover it and allow to simmer until you are ready to eat! Just before serving, use a slotted spoon to get all the waste out of your broth or strain through a fine mesh strainer.
After the veggies cook in the broth, its fun to dip them into some flavor. Here are a few simple dipping sauces I like to serve with my fondue:
1. Balsamic: Whisk together 2 tbsp. each balsamic vinegar and olive oil with 1/4 tsp. of Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt and pepper.
2. Spicy Mayo: Mix 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise with about 1 tsp. of sriracha (or to taste).
3. Curried Mayo: Mix 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise with about 1 tsp. of curry powder (or to taste) and 1/2 tsp. salt.
4. Teriyaki: Combine 2 Tbsp. Soya Sauce, 1/4 tsp. Sesame Oil, 1 Tsp. Hoisin Sauce, 1/2 tsp. Honey, 1/4 tsp. Sriracha.
5. Pesto Sauce: Combine 2 cups Fresh Basil, 1/2 cup Toasted Pine Nuts, a pinch of Salt and Pepper, 2 Tsp. Olive Oil and 2 Garlic Cloves in a food processor and mix well until it becomes a paste.
*Here's a fun tip! If you are making a fondue dinner I recommend making lots extra of all 3 components (veggies, broth and dipping sauces) why? This way you have simple meals prepped for the week! Click here for ideas of meals to make for the next week using your leftovers.
Course 3: Chocolate Fondue!
If you have room (and who doesn't have room for chocolate) it's nice to end off the meal with a nice chocolate fondue!
Melt your favorite chocolate (I love to use Toblerone for this) and dip any or all of the following:
- Fruits such as: bananas, strawberries, tangerine segments, apple slices, cut pineapple, cut melon, grapes, blueberries etc...
- Pretzel sticks
- Sponge Cake
You can really mix and match any ingredients you like for your own fondue dinner. The important part is to choose ingredients that you like and have fun!
Happy Valentine's Day!
The Vegetarian Gourmet