And just like that, we’re on to the month of November. Our 5th blogoversary quietly came and went over the weekend, and in light of that, here is a new recipe. Call it a mild celebration. In light of the upcoming holiday season, this is a good opportunity to share a green version of a traditionally heavy dish. It’s nice to have a few of these on hand when you tire of cookies, pies and cakes. If you are not one who tires of cookies, pies and cakes, you are still welcome to give it a try.
Hopefully you are not afraid of risotto. The creamy short grain rice does require some attention, but it is fairly forgiving. The key is setting aside a full 20-30 minutes of focus, so try to eliminate any big distractions if possible because you’ll have both hands busy pouring and stirring. There’s no need for speed with risotto. Just set your mind on pouring and stirring. And drinking a glass of wine at the same time.
The forgiving aspect of risotto is what makes it so great, especially when it comes to the final additions. We both love fennel. It is one of those hardy vegetables that is pleasant in many ways, whether they be raw or cooked. The anise flavor softens, but the essence permeates a broth or sauce as fennel a cooks. Sautéing fennel with savory onion and nutty celery would establish a great base for this risotto. For extra green power, fresh kale and risotto hop into the pot, followed by fresh Parmesan, and dinner is done. Balance a carb-heavy dish with lots of veggies, and you may feel a bit more guilt-free once you push away from the table.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 - 2½ cups vegetable or chicken stock, warm
- 1 cup kale leaves
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Fine sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- In a sturdy, wide sauce pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Once hot, add the onion, fennel and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the arborio rice and stir into the vegetables, coating each grain with the oil. Once the grains are semi-translucent, pour in the white wine. Cook, stirring often, until the wine evaporates. Working in batches ½ cup at a time, add the first 1½ - 2 cups of stock, cooking until each round of liquid nearly disappears. (Taste a few grains of rice to check texture as you go along. The rice should be al dente with a very slight bite similar to perfectly cooked pasta.)
- Add the kale and spinach just before the final addition of stock. Stir the veggies into the rice, then add another ½ cup of liquid. Once almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.