I have made a lot of risotto in my life. It is my go-to entertaining dish of choice. Risotto is a classy dish. It is the kind food that is elegant, tastes great, but is also budget friendly. A little bit of Arborio rice goes a long way, and if you add a lot of suff, every bite can be different, and special.
The best part about risotto is that it can be made throughout the year using whichever seasonal ingredients you may have at hand. It never gets boring, and you can use it as a way of experimenting with new food, and flavor combinations. Take for example this risotto I made several months ago. Never having tasted mizuna, I threw it into the pot for a match made in heaven gastronomic experience!
I made this version a while back, and hadn’t had the chance to share. I think I was holding on to this recipe because it is the kind I would put on a menu if I ever opened my own restaurant (ha!). It is that good. I am serious!
What is so good about this risotto is how unexpectedly delicious sweet, zesty oranges can taste alongside a warm bowl of fennel infused Arborio rice. The rice is creamy, but also fresh, aromatic, and tangy. Each bite is a beautiful combination of anise and citrus. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list. It is worth it. I promise.
Fennel and Orange Risotto
Cooking time 40 minutes
- ½ inch slice fresh ginger
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium fennel
- 2-3 shallots thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1-tablespoon butter
- Segments from 2 oranges
- Zest from 2 oranges
- Handful fresh cilantro
- Handful fresh parsley
- 1 sprig fennel leaves
- 1/8 cup Parmegiano Reggiano thinly sliced (optional)
In a small-medium saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium. Add ginger to broth. The secret to really good risotto lies in the broth. Because I barely have time to make my own, I always add several slices of ginger to the store bought kind. Ginger adds depth in flavor and a hint of spice.
In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium temperature. Add sliced fennel, shallots, garlic, pinch of salt, cumin and coriander; cook until soft (5- 7 minutes). Add Arborio rice and stir. Add white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Half a cup at a time, transfer vegetable broth into the risotto pot, stir frequently, but not consistently, until broth is mostly absorbed. Repeat, until you have used all of the broth. This should take twenty to twenty-five minutes. The best way to know is by tasting; cooked rice is soft, with a bite. If the rice is not fully cooked, stir in more water 1 cup at a time until ready. Again, tasting as you go makes for a great risotto and a good cook.
Once rice is cooked, taste for seasoning. Add more salt, if needed. Turn burner off, add butter and stir vigorously. This step will make your risotto creamy and luscious. Add herbs, orange segments and zest. Mix until well incorporated.
When ready to serve, sprinkle a couple slices of good Parmesan cheese, and several slivers of raw fennel. Serve immediately. If you, unlike me, eat animals, add a pan-seared scallop atop the rice. Enjoy!