Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Fennel and Black Olive Risotto

The weather doesn't know what to do with itself, one hour the sun is shining warmly on our  heads, the next the rain is falling on our heads.  

This unpredictable weather has got me wanting soothing comforting food - like risotto - twice in one month, what do you say to that?!.  I  picked up a  very expensive Florence Fennel from the farmers market at the weekend.  It was certainly a bulbous specimen, a female fennel for sure.  Yes, the vegetable fennel does have a gender, something I learnt a few years back from reading one of my cookbooks by Italian vegetarian food writer Ursula Ferrigno.  The taller thin bulbs are male.  

Anyway, as I was saying this fennel was quite expensive - it was sold by the weight, and my nephew happened to picked out the biggest!  So not to forget about it in the vegetable basket I made a point of making a meal of it sooner rather than later.   
Here is the finished dish - Fennel Risotto.  I decided to add some black olives to the dish for piquancy, as I felt the contrast with the fresh fennel aniseed flavour would work well and it did.  It's a naturally creamy dish too, I have added no cream or cheese to it, but if you wish to do so, please do - I would probably recommend a blue cheese.

I am sharing this with Anneli over at Delicieux and Lou over at Eat Your Veg for Four Seasons Food.  The theme this month is celebrate vegetables, and I think fennel is one of those vegetables that often gets overlooked by people, so its worth reminding people of this cream bulbous beauty with frilly green fronds.
Fennel and Black Olive Risotto
Serves 2 - 3
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g risotto rice
I large fennel bulb, roughly chopped - keep back green fronds
11/2 pints gluten free vegetable stock
2 tablespoons black olives from a jar, rinsed and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a wide pan, heat the oil.  Stir in the onion and saut√© for 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in the garlic and the rice and cook for a minute or so. 
Add a ladleful of the vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice, stir in the fennel, then gradually add more, a ladle at a time until all is used up.  Stir frequently until the rice and fennel is cooked, about 20 - 25 minutes.  About 5 minutes before the rice is cooked, stir in the fennel fronds and black olives. Give it another good stir and then serve immediately.  


  1. That look delish...I love black olives...

    ~Have a lovely day!

    1. Thanks, I was never a fan of olives - took me a while to like them.

  2. Very elegantly presented too, Shaheen!

  3. I'm one of those rare veggies who can't stand olives, but I love love love Fennel and have never thought about for a risotto before - so thanks so much!

    1. I never used to like olives, took me a while to like them. I was converted when I had them in a tapenade - and then its been no looking back, but prefer green ones. You can leave the olives out in this dish, its optional :)

  4. What a lovely combination of ingredients for a risotto. And I never knew fennels had a gender! Thats just brilliant! Thanks for entering this into Four Seasons Food x


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