The fennel plant we are growing in a pot on our roof terrace is ready to harvest. Is ready the right word? I’m not sure.
Some of the spring onions are looking good too. Spring onions (cebolletas) in Spain are huge. They are completely different to the spring onions/scallions you get in the UK or US. So when I say use 1 spring onion it’s probably equivalent to 4 or 5 scallions.
I have been looking for suitable fennel recipes for a while now. Something to really showcase our first and only fennel. It had to be something special. The classic Fennel & Orange Salad sounded lovely and fresh but it is raining here at the moment so I didn’t really feel like a salad. I wanted something warm and comforting. I came across a recipe for Orzotto with Sausage, Fennel & Rosemary on The Culinary Taste. Orzotto is a barley risotto. This was exactly the kind of thing I had been looking for. Minus the sausage, obviously. Rita said she was inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe for Fennel Risotto so I asked her what other ingredients he had added. His recipe was for Fennel Risotto with Ricotta & Dried Chilli.
Jamie’s recipe used the zest & juice of a lemon as well. This got me thinking back to the classic fennel & orange salad combo and I decided (living in Andalucia) to use orange instead of lemon and our beautiful spring onions were the natural substitute for normal onions.
A local cheese producer makes a goat’s ricotta (requeson in Spanish) which I had been wanting to try for a while. So, I had all the ingredients for the perfect, seasonal, locally produced, homegrown dish. Exciting!
Fennel & Orange Risotto with Spring Onion, Goat’s Ricotta & Chilli
Serves 4 vegetarian. Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter plus 1 tbsp for finishing
- 1 fennel, finely chopped fronds reserved for garnish
- 1 stick celery finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 large Spanish spring onion or 4 or 5 small, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- salt & black pepper
- a splash of white wine/vermouth
- about 300 gr risotto rice (I used brown)
- about 1 litre of veg stock
- about 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 4 tbsp goats requeson (ricotta), normal ricotta or soft goat’s cheese
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- about 50 gr grated parmesan
Put the veg stock in a small pan over a low heat. Heat the oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the fennel seeds, spring onions, celery, and chopped fennel. Cook for a few minutes until softened and translucent then add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add in the rice and stir to coat in the oil and butter. When the rice starts to turn translucent add in the wine and cook until it evaporates.
Add a ladle of the hot stock and season well with salt & black pepper. When all the liquid has been absorbed add another ladle of stock, stir or swirl the rice, wait for it to be absorbed and repeat until the rice is cooked. This should take about 18 minutes with white rice and longer with brown.
When the rice is cooked remove the pan from the heat, add the tbsp butter, parmesan, orange zest, half the orange juice and crumble over the ricotta. Stir, put the lid on and leave for 2 minutes.
Taste and add more orange juice if you think it needs it. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with a pinch of dried chilli flakes and the fennel fronds. Have a bowl of the ricotta and Parmesan on the table for people to help themselves to.
The flavour combination of the fennel and orange is really bright, slightly sweet & fresh. Together with the creaminess of the ricotta it is a deliciously rich dish, unusually reminiscent of a dessert in some ways. But don’t let that put you off. Serve it as a starter or lunch dish rather than a main course to people who appreciate different flavours and they will be left wanting more….