Healthy cheese fon­due thanks to sneaky in­gre­di­ent

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FOOD - By Melissa D’ara­bian On­line: http://www. melis­sadara­bian.net

Cheese fon­due is the ul­ti­mate win­ter com­fort food. Liv­ing in France in my early 30s, I fell in love with the clas­sic recipe made with crisp white wine and nutty gruyere cheese.

One of my fa­vorite spots in Paris was a restau­rant whose named trans­lated lit­er­ally into “Bread, Wine, and Cheese” that was hid­den away in a cozy un­der­ground cave with low ceil­ings. Step­ping in­side from in­vari­ably chilly rainy Paris nights, we’d be hit with an ap­peal­ingly musty aroma, like a freshly-popped wine cork com­bined with heady, fatty, aged cheeses.

French fon­due is lifechang­ing. And I’ve found a way to cap­ture all that fla­vor for a frac­tion of the calo­ries. Just kid­ding. Truth is, I can’t com­pletely mimic my beloved wine-cave ver­sion of melted bliss. But, I can get close enough to scratch the cheese-fon­due itch in a dip while stay­ing rea­son­ably healthy, thanks to a sneaky in­gre­di­ent: white beans.

Cooked white beans add lush body to the dip, so I can swap out a bunch of the cheese and heavy cream, bring­ing the calo­ries and fat way down. Low-fat cream cheese, or Neufcha­tel, boosts the cheesy fac­tor, so a mere half cup of high-qual­ity grated gruyere goes a long way to keep­ing the dip squarely in the cheese-fon­due fla­vor pro­file, helped by dry mus­tard and a dash of ground nut­meg.

The beans are also a wise way to boost the nu­tri­ent pro­file — one cup of white beans adds 19 grams of pro­tein and 13 grams of fiber. If you are en­ter­tain­ing on a bud­get, in­clud­ing fru­gal-friendly beans in your menu to stretch more ex­pen­sive in­gre­di­ents (like gruyere) is a smart move — guests will be sat­is­fied with the ex­tra fiber and pro­tein. Since this is a dip, it pairs beau­ti­fully with veg­gies to create a stel­lar win­ter cru­dité — steam up cubes of but­ter­nut squash if you re­ally want to win­ter­ize.

The beans of­fer a fi­nal ben­e­fit, and I’ve saved the best for last. Blended beans sta­bi­lize the cheesy dip, so you can serve it warm, room tem­per­a­ture, or chilled — a re­lief if you are en­ter­tain­ing this hol­i­day and don’t want to worry about cheese con­geal­ing. This dip will stay per­fectly creamy all party-long.

Cheese fon­due dip

Start to fin­ish: 15 min­utes Serv­ings: Ap­prox­i­mately 8 1⁄2 cup sliced shal­lot (about 2 large shal­lots) 1⁄4 tea­spoon dried rubbed sage 2 tea­spoons un­salted but­ter 2 tea­spoons flour 1⁄2 cup dry white wine 1⁄2 cup chicken or veg­etable broth, di­vided 4 ounces Neufcha­tel cheese (“light cream cheese”) 1⁄2 cup shred­ded gruyere cheese 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice 1⁄2 tea­spoon dried mus­tard pinch ground nut­meg pinch ground black pep­per 1 cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed if canned

Cook the shal­lot and sage in the but­ter in a medium skil­let over medium heat, un­til shal­lots are soft (but not brown), about 5 min­utes. Sprin­kle the flour and over the shal­lots and cook for 1 minute, stir­ring.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, and let bub­ble for a minute to let the al­co­hol evap­o­rate. Add ¼ cup of the broth and stir. Add the Neufcha­tel cheese and stir as it melts and cre­ates a thick, creamy mix­ture, about 1-2 min­utes. Stir in the gruyere cheese and turn off the heat — it will melt with the resid­ual heat. Let mix­ture cool a few min­utes.

Mean­while, place the re­main­ing ¼ cup broth, lemon juice, dried mus­tard, nut­meg, pep­per and beans in a blender. Blend on high un­til smooth, about 30 sec­onds. (If bean mix­ture is too thick to blend, add a ta­ble­spoon of water.) Scrape the cream cheese mix­ture into the blender and blend all to­gether un­til very creamy, about 30 sec­onds.

Serve warm, room tem­per­a­ture or cold.

Nu­tri­tion in­for­ma­tion per serv­ing: 118 calo­ries; 48 calo­ries from fat; 5 g fat (3 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 17 mg choles­terol; 122 mg sodium; 9 g car­bo­hy­drate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 6 g pro­tein.

Food Net­work star Melissa d’Ara­bian is an ex­pert on healthy eat­ing on a bud­get. She is the au­thor of the cook­book “Su­per­mar­ket Healthy.”

MELISSA D’ARA­BIAN VIA AP

This photo shows cheese fon­due dip in Coron­ado This dish is from a recipe by Melissa d’Ara­bian.

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