There's a special kind of magic that happens when the right ingredients come together in a dish. Picture melting Italian Fontina cheese, in the aromatic embrace of fresh herbs, and the comforting warmth of a cast iron skillet. Inspired by the culinary genius of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself, I'm excited to share my version, Ina Garten Baked Fontina Cheese Recipe for Two. This recipe is not only perfect for cozy evenings but also wallet-friendly for our "cooking for two on a budget" mission. This Fontina cheese dip is simple to put together, it looks gorgeous and pairs well with a glass of wine. Delipair recommends a California White Chardonnay as its top pick for pairing with Baked Fontina.
How easy is that? Who wants a boring cheese plate when you can have one of the best Italian recipes with melted cheese?
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THE RECIPE
- Baked Fontina is not just a recipe, it’s an experience.
- The blend of Italian Fontina cheese with fresh herbs, all warmed in a trusty cast iron skillet, is culinary magic.
- The addition of olive oil and the spritz of freshly ground black pepper elevates its flavors.
- Not to mention, it's simple enough for a casual evening but fancy enough for date night.
- Italian Fontina Cheese: The star of this dish, Italian Fontina, is well-known for its semi-soft texture which results in an irresistible cheese dip when baked. Its slightly earthy and nutty flavor makes Fontina cheese a must-have in your cheese arsenal. However, here at Oh That's Good, we make budget-friendly meals. There are domestic brands of Fontina cheese that work very well in this recipe. BelGioioso Fontina Cheese Wedge sells for $6.99 per 8 ounces. I use it all the time and highly recommend it. Buy the more expensive Italian fontina if you like and your budget allows.
- Fresh Herbs: Fresh herbs like fresh thyme leaves and minced fresh rosemary provide the aromatic backbone of this recipe. Ina Garten, our very own Barefoot Contessa, swears by the power of herbs, and who are we to disagree? Not me.
- Hot sauce: Use your favorite. I love Cholula sauce, especially in an egg or cheese recipe.
- French baguette: or other crusty bread with small holes to hold onto the melty cheese.
Cheese: If Italian Fontina cheese isn't on hand, Gruyère or provolone can fill in. Both melt beautifully, ensuring the gooey texture the Baked Fontina recipe promises.
Fresh Herbs: Can't find fresh? Dried thyme and rosemary are great substitutes. Remember, with dried, a little goes a long way.
Perhaps, Ina Garten herself, would approve of a Mediterranean twist? Incorporate sun-dried tomatoes or Kalamata olives. They complement the crusty French baguette you'll use for dipping.
- Fontina Melting: Cube your Fontina cheese uniformly to ensure it melts evenly in your cast iron or iron pan.
- Bread Dipping: That crusty French baguette is best when slightly warmed.
- Heat Adjustment: As always, keep a close eye on your Baked Fontina cheese under the broiler. Ovens vary, and perfection is in the details.
While best enjoyed fresh, if you've got leftovers (I’d be surprised!), store the baked Fontina in an airtight container in the fridge. Warm it up gently in your cast iron skillet when you're ready for round two.
INSTRUCTIONS for BAKED FONTINA APPETIZER
- Cube the Fontina cheese and place the cubes of Fontina in a cast iron skillet. I used a 6-inch cast iron skillet.
- Top it with garlic, rosemary, and thyme.
- Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
- Drizzle with "good" olive oil.
- Pop the whole thing under the broiler for six minutes until the cheese is a smooth texture, is bubbly and golden brown.
- While the cheese is piping hot, splash a little hot sauce on top.
- Serve immediately, scooped up with crusty French bread.
The next time you like sharing a hot bubbly caldron of melted cheese with someone special, this new cheese is for you. The dramatic cheese pull is worth the little bit of effort it takes to make my Ina Garten Baked Fontina Cheese Recipe for Two!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When broiling the Fontina cheese, it's important to watch closely to avoid overcooking. Adjusting the medium heat by positioning your oven rack 6" from the heat source ensures even melting.
Some great ways to enjoy this dish include serving it with a green salad to make it a meal or pairing it with a chilled glass of California White Chardonnay for a richer experience.
The best ways to store any leftovers (though they might be rare!) is in an airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready for another round, reheat gently in your cast iron skillet.
While the recipe doesn’t explicitly state this, it's often a good idea to let cheeses come to room temperature before cooking. It helps with even melting and flavor enhancement.
Absolutely! Red onion could add a lovely bite and additional layer of flavor. Just thinly slice or dice and sprinkle it in with the other ingredients before broiling.
If you don't have Fontina on hand, other soft cheeses like Gruyère or provolone can be used. Both of these options melt beautifully, ensuring that luscious, gooey texture we're aiming for in the Baked Fontina recipe.
Ina Garten Baked Fontina Cheese Recipe for Two
- 6" cast iron skillet The advantage of using a cast iron skillet is the ability to quickly warm the dish on the stovetop if it starts to lose its ooey gooeyness.
- Substitute frying pan that is approved for use under the broiler
- 8 ounces Italian Cheese
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves chopped or thinly sliced (recommend thinly sliced)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves minced
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground black pepper or crushed red pepper (recommend combination of the two)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 4 ounces French baguette Crusty French Baguette
- Preheat the broiler and position the oven rack 6" from the heat.
- Cut the Fontina cheese into ¾" cubes and place the cubes evenly in the bottom of a 6-inch cast-iron skillet.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the top.
- Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle the garlic and herbs evenly over the cheese and olive oil in the skillet.
- Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper over the cubes of cheese and place the skillet under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and just beginning to brown on top.
- When the cheese is perfectly meltd, remove it from the oven and add a few drops of hot sauce.
- Serve the baked Fontina appetizer for two straight out of the oven in the cast-iron pan with chunks of crusty bread for dipping.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
We take every effort to ensure that the estimated meal cost per serving is accurate. We use a meal cost analysis application that estimates the cost of a recipe based on groceries purchased at a Walmart store in my geographical area, northern California.
From the melting Fontina cheese to the crusty bread ready to scoop up all that gooey goodness, this Baked Fontina recipe is truly a winner. Drawing inspiration from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten, this dish exemplifies that good food doesn't have to be complicated or costly. A cast iron skillet, quality ingredients, and a little love are all it takes. Enjoy every bite!