Fennel is also known as sweet fennel, Florence fennel or finocchio (Italian). Italy and France produce more fennel than any other country. It’s filling and yet very low in calories, so is excellent for snacking when you’re watching your weight. It has a mild, sweet flavour.
Fennel and Leek Risotto
Preparation time; 30 minutes; Cooking time: 45 minutes; Serves: 4-6
- 6-8 cups vegetable stock
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds,
- 2 leeks, light green and white parts, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
- 4 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
- 1 large fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
- 2 cups (14oz, 400g) Arborio rice
- 125g (4oz) pancetta, chopped (optional)
- ¾ cup (6fl oz, 180ml) dry white wine
- ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Fresh fennel fronds and grated Pecorino for topping
- Bring chicken or vegetable stock to the boil over high heat, in a small pot. Reduce the heat to low and keep the stock (broth) hot.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the fennel seeds and lightly brown them. Add the celery and sauté about 5 minutes until soft. Add the fennel and continue cooking until they begin to soften.
- Add the rice and stir for about 3 minutes until the rice is fully coated with oil. Add the wine and cook until absorbed.
- Add 1 cups of the hot stock and cook stirring over medium-low heat until absorbed. Gradually add the remaining stock, half a cupful at a time, allowing the rice to fully absorb the liquid before adding more and stirring constantly. (After the addition of at least 7 cups of stock, you can taste and gauge for the degree of doneness of rice and the creaminess of risotto. Whenever you feel the rice is al dente and risotto is creamy enough you can stop cooking. If you want a softer, looser risotto, incorporate more stock).
- Once all the stock has been absorbed (20-25 minutes), the rice should be soft and creamy, with a slight resistance to the bite.
- Add the Pecorino Romano and stir gently until creamy. Adjust seasoning. Let the rice rest for a few minutes and serve topped with the extra Pecorino Romano.