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.
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 sauté 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.