Back from a long summer hiatus which we’ve spent experimenting and coming up with new must-try recipes, this green harvest risotto with fennel and peas and mint perfectly reflects our end-of-summer, beginning-of-autumn mood.
I often make risotto, both because I find it’s easy to make and because it’s so wonderfully versatile. There are infinite possibilities to vary a basic risotto by switching up your add on ingredients depending on mood and season, or even what’s sitting in your fridge waiting to find a good purpose.
What I like especially about this risotto with fennel and peas and mint is the sweetness of the peas combined with the freshness of the mint. That in itself is one decent risotto. But why stop there? In comes the cooked-two- ways-fennel with a hint of licorice bitterness but also sweetness, kind of cheeky and bold, isn’t it?
In the (unlikely) event that you find yourself with leftovers, try using the rest for arancini balls next day. I promise you won’t be sorry you have to eat the same thing two days in a row!
Risotto with shaved and baked fennel, fresh peas and mint (serves 4-6)
2 cups (400 g) Arborio risotto rice
2 shallot onions, or 1 small regular yellow onion, finely diced
6 tbsp olive oil for the risotto to start
Extra olive oil for the fennel and for garnish
7 oz (200 ml) white wine, e.g. Pinot Grigio
6 cups (1½ liters) good quality vegetable or chicken stock
1 large (or 2 small) bulb fennel, finely shaved on a Mandolin slicer, or very thinly sliced with a sharp knife
1/3 lbs (175 g) fresh peas
100 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 bunch/large handful fresh mint
Optional: pea shoots for garnish
1. Start by finely dicing the onion, slicing the fennel and grating the Parmesan cheese. Start making preparations for the baked fennel by placing about 2/3 of the sliced fennel on a baking tray clad with baking parchment. Drizzle the slices with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
2. Then gently heat up the olive oil at medium heat in a sauté pan. Once the oil is warm, pour in the finely diced onion and stir well for 1-2 minutes. Make sure the onions don’t brown. Then add the risotto rice and stir well for another minute or so making sure the rice mixes with the oil and onions.
3. Now pour the white wine into the rice mix, and stir as the wine comes to a boil and slowly starts to evaporate. Then pour in about ½ cup of the vegetable stock at a time and keep stirring gently. Whenever the stock starts to evaporate add a little more. After about 10 minutes of stirring the risotto, turn on the oven to broil. Once the oven is hot, put in the baking tray with the sliced fennel. Bake the fennel for about 5-8 minutes until it starts taking on color. Watch it though, once it starts browning, it will burn fast.
4. Keep stirring and adding stock to the risotto while the fennel bakes in the oven. When it’s done, take the baked fennel out of the oven and leave to rest. Then add the rest of the uncooked fennel to the risotto and keep stirring and adding stock. After another 5 minutes or so, add the peas to the risotto. Cook for a further 5 minutes while stirring gently and then mix in the grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a generous drizzle of olive oil to finish off.
5. Take the risotto off the heat and fold the chopped mint into the risotto. Serve with the baked fennel as topping and pea shoots as garnish if you like. as well as freshly ground black pepper and maybe extra drizzles of olive oil.