Don’t think of a vegetable as merely a delivery system for gooey cheese fondue. When the right veggies are paired with the right fondue, the result is layered and delicious flavor with each bite. Certain vegetables have no place near the fondue pot – here’s looking at you, lettuce – but most of the offerings at your favorite farmer's market are fit to be dipped.
Asparagus that’s been slightly cooked still retains a crunch and brightness that pairs well with any type of cheese fondue – and as a bonus, using a long spear of asparagus negates the need for fondue skewers. Just as you combine artichokes and cheese in your favorite dip, so too can you combine them for fondue. Use your fingers to dip the cooked leaves in either a broth or cheese fondue, and use a fondue fork to dip artichoke hearts. Sugar snap peas or cubed carrots that have been lightly blanched also work with either type of fondue.
In the height of summer, dipping fresh vegetables into a light broth fondue seasoned with herbs may be preferable to eating a heavy cheese dip. Any summer vegetable can be lightly grilled before going into your fondue pot to add a layer of smoky flavor. Use strips of bell pepper, spears of zucchini, whole cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets and chunks of radishes. Sprinkle freshly dipped summer vegetables with chopped basil for an extra bite of fresh, bright flavor.
In fall, look to creamy members of the squash family. Handled carefully, they're hearty enough to stand up to being dipped in fondue. Season a broth fondue with pumpkin-flavored ale, or sprinkle nutmeg into a cheese fondue to get the most of fall flavors. Peel, cube and roast butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. Let these cubes cool slightly to firm up before eating. Florets of steamed cauliflower and Brussels sprouts also pair well with cheese fondue.
Winter calls for comfort food. Boil or roast root vegetables, like small potatoes and turnips, to dip in cheese fondue. Different varietals of mushrooms have different growing seasons, so while mushrooms aren't technically a winter vegetable – and as fungi, they’re not technically vegetables at all – they have a meaty, filling quality that works well for warming up on a cold day. Add red wine such as pinot noir to a recipe that uses a hearty beef broth.