Welcome to On Board in 20, a recipe series where we share wholesome, 20-minute meals that are shared family style. The recipes always contain whole food ingredients and are intended to be brought to the table for family members to build and construct their individual plates as their senses guide them. Along the way, we bring you tips and tricks for speeding up prep and cleanup for those busy weeknight meal times. This month’s 20-minute recipe for Cheese Fondue is just the thing for when people pop over during the holiday season.

On Board in 20: Cheese Fondu | Food Bloggers of Canada

The holiday season is upon us and if there was ever a time when families needed a quick weeknight meal, this is the time. This time of year people tend to socialize more and those social pop-ins start to creep into our weeknights. This month's On Board in 20 Cheese Fondue is the perfect solution to saying yes to friends popping over.

There are so many reasons I love this meal. First, it's super forgiving — just use what you have in the fridge as far as fruits and vegetables go. If you need to get in and out of a grocery store fast, grab the gruyere cheese and the baguette and the rest you can improvise at home. Shallots are the love child of an onion and a garlic — hello timesaver! That said, if you don't have a shallot you can finely chop a small white onion and even just rub the inside of the pot with a cut garlic clove.

On Board in 20: Cheese Fondu | Food Bloggers of Canada

The richness and bold flavours of both the cheese and the meats eliminates the need for herbs and spices here — you won't even need salt and pepper. To satisfy a variety of palates, choose a mild ham sausage and then a spicer, dry one. That said, leftover cooked chicken, some cooked sausage or even ham would all work well here. I can't think of many vegetables that don't get better with melted cheese, so now is the time to clean out the produce drawer. And for fruit, think dual purpose. Apples and pears are delicious dipped in cheese, whereas melon and grapes make juicy cleansers in between bites.

So as the holiday season approaches and you find yourself with impromptu company, or you just want to all cozy up around the coffee table and watch the Yule log, add this Cheese Fondue to your collection of weeknight 20-minute meals.

On Board in 20: Cheese Fondu | Food Bloggers of Canada

On Board in 20: Cheese Fondue with Salami and Assorted Veg
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beer, light to medium flavoured
  • 1 lb small baby potatoes
  • 1 cup broccoli crowns
  • 1 small handful fresh asparagus, bottom 2 to 3 inches removed
  • 11 oz Gruyere cheese
  • 5 oz white cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 coil ham sausage (about 11 oz)
  • 1 small dry hard salami (i.e., wine chorizo)
  • Fresh fruit: grapes, apple, pear (see note)
  • 1 baguette
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  1. Fill a kettle with 1.5 cups of water and bring to a boil. Preheat 2 medium saucepans to medium-high heat (one for the cheese and one for the veg).
  2. Roughly chop the shallot and add it plus the oil to what will be the cheese saucepan. Reduce heat to medium. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the beer, bringing to an active simmer.
  3. As soon as the kettle boils, add the potatoes and enough boiled water to just cover them. Place a lid on the pot and boil for ten minutes. After 10 minutes, add broccoli and after three more minutes add asparagus. Reducing heat slightly and keeping the lid on will increase cooking time. Ideally you want the potatoes just covered so the broccoli and asparagus sit on top, just above the water and steam.
  4. Use a food processor grate attachment or a hand grater to grate both cheeses. Toss the cheeses with the cornstarch and then gradually add the cheese to the shallot and beer pan. Use a whisk and actively stir to prevent clumping. Once the cheese has melted set the heat to low.
  5. To assemble: Drain and pat the vegetables dry with a clean, dry towel and place on the board. Add the two types of meats, cutting a few slices to get them started. Add fresh fruit like grapes, apple or pear. Tear or roughly cut some baguette and scatter around. Transfer the cheese to a fondue pot or heat-safe bowl you can place over a tea light.
The fruit can serve two purposes. One, it can be for dipping in the cheese (such as apple or pear); two, it can be a sweet palate cleanser to cut the richness of the meat and cheese (such as melon or grapes).

More 20-Minute Meal Ideas?

Lisa Bolton is the creator, writer and photographer behind Food Well Said, her blog about bringing thoughtfully prepared, whole food recipes. She lives in the Lower Mainland of BC and you can reach her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

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