It felt a little strange, putting tomatoes in my fondue pot.
I'm not against a twist on regular fondue—I like to dip pineapple and pear, add a fine dusting of Schabziger, replace the wine with beer or apple juice etc.—but Sam likes his fondue pure. Cheese and bread. Don't even think about dipping a potato.
"Heathens!" he cried, when I told him our friends had dipped cooked meat in a cheese fondue.
So I wasn't really sure what to expect when I posited the idea of tomatoes.
I presented my case carefully.
"Look at this old Swiss cookbook that belongs to my mum. It contains many strange but delicious recipes."
He nodded, "go on".
"Well, this one is called Rassiges Tomatenfondue, doesn't that sound interesting?"
A skeptical look. But luckily I had done some research.
"Apparently it's very common to eat tomato fondue in the Wallis?"
A nod. "But no potatoes."
So we had our tomato fondue with bread, instead of the traditional potatoes (which is great, as we always have lots of leftover bread that I am struggling to use up) and the verdict was good. It was still super cheesy, but not quite as heavy, and the addition of red wine instead of white, as well as lots of garlic and herbs, gave it a really nice flavour.
Even Sam enjoyed it, though when I suggested eating it in the summer with fresh tomatoes and a big bunch of herbs from our garden he just gently patted my hand.
"In the summer you eat raclette."
The recipe I mentioned was from an old Jowa cookbook of my mum's. Jowa is the company under the Migros umbrella responsible for all their bread products. In the 80s they produced some cookbooks about using their products and using leftover bread.
They vary slightly, some preferring chunks of tomatoes, and some using purée. The wines differ too, red or white, but I like the extra flavour of the red. All seem to agree that it can be aggressively flavoured with garlic and herbs.
3 cloves of garlic
400 g tomatoes, puréed
200 ml red wine
600 g hard cheese, grated (see note below)
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp kirsch
fresh or dried herbs of your choosing (basil, oregano, thyme, parsley)
pepper and nutmeg
bread (or boiled potatoes) for dipping
Set up your fondue stand and make sure you have enough fuel for your heating element.
Roughly mince the garlic and use this to rub your fondue pot. Leave the slices of garlic in the pot and add the tomato purée on top.
In a small dish, whisk together the kirsch and cornstarch.
Put the fondue pot directly on the stove and heat the tomato purée over medium-high heat until it is bubbling. Lower the heat to medium and slowly add the cheese. Add the wine. Raise the heat a little and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture, then bring back to a boil.
Keep stirring until it all melts together and is bubbling.
Season with pepper and nutmeg to taste, then place it on your heated fondue stand, immediately beginning to stir with bread (or potato)-skewered forks.
- For the tomatoes, you can use a jar of Passata, or simply purée canned tomatoes. You could also use fresh tomato purée, but it's probably best to peel them first.
- You can use different hard cheeses for this fondue—half Vacherin Fribourgeois and half Gruyère is typical. You can also substitute with Emmental or Appenzeller. I used about a third each of Vacherin Fribourgeois, Gruyère, and Trubschacher Bergkäse from my local dairy. DO NOT use a generic 'Swiss cheese’; you will not get the same result.