Fennel is a wonderful plant that is just coming into season now. It has an aniseed taste and works really well with rice, pasta and cheese.
I made the risotto last night and it was totally delicious. This amount will serve 5 and any left overs can be made into balls and fried in a little butter.
I large onion, finely chopped.
1 Garlic clove, finely chopped
1 large head of fennel, finely chopped but keep the discarded stalks and root base for the stock.
20 fennel seeds (optional)
1 pint jug of Arborio risotto rice
1 glass of white wine
3 pints of boiling water made into a stock by adding marigold stock powder and the fennel stalks.
Sautee the onions, garlic and the fennel and fennel seeds in butter and oil until they are transparent. Add the rice, stirring constantly, the wine, then 3 ladles at a time, add the stock. Keep stirring and let the risotto bubble away quite furiously.
Risotto rice is particular and different to other rice because it has a lot of starch. The stirring releases the starch which in turn makes the creamy sauce.
After 15 minutes or so, check for the consistency of the rice. Once it is almost cooked, add three more ladles of stock, turn the heat off, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Stir in a couple of tablespoons of cream and serve with parmesan cheese and fresh black pepper.
Obviously, if you are vegan all the ingredients containing animal fat can be replaced with vegan alternatives and the taste is equally fabulous.