FENNEL, GREEN PEAS, GREEN GARLIC RISOTTO
The markets are flourishing with spring produce – the likes of fennel, fresh pea pods, green onions, green garlic, leeks, asparagus – think all green vegetables! I am loving the different shades of green that spring vegetables bring to the table.
I love fennel. Raw fennel is usually added to salads with citrus, since citrus and fennel is a classic combination. Fennel in the cooked form when added to pastas add a nice bite to the pasta.
I am also adding green garlic, wherever I can replace garlic pods, thus giving the dish so much fresh flavor, and color as well.
The smell of green garlic is unlike no other. They are easy to grow as well. Plant a few garlic pods separately in a pot, water them regularly, and you will see green garlic sprouting in a few weeks. The stalks take about 2-3 months to fully grow and mature, but I think it’s worth the wait!
WHAT KIND OF RICE IS USED IN RISOTTO?
Taken from Wikipedia, Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice. It is named after the town of Arborio, in the Po Valley, which is situated in the region of Piedmont in Italy. When cooked, the rounded grains are firm, creamy and chewy compared to other varieties of rice, due to their higher amylopectin starch content.
I usually purchase this Arborio rice from Amazon. I buy the pack of 6, since my kids love risotto, and I usually make extra so that they can take it in their lunch boxes as well. Sometimes the extras become Arancini, which is essentially a fried risotto ball, and so very tasty!
There is a recipe for a Spiced Potato Arancini in my cookbook – Mumbai Modern, and it’s a recipe that has been so well received.
HOW TO CUT A FENNEL?
Fennel is essentially a part of the carrot family. It tastes mildly licorice, and is really flavorful. It consists of a fennel bulb, green stalks, and fennel fronds towards the top of the vegetable. It is not considered a root vegetable as it does not grow underground.
It can be tricky to cut fennel. Usually, I cut off the fronds first. The bulb is cut into half and then quarters. I thinly slice the quarters, horizontally to form thinly sliced fennel. The stems are thinly sliced too. The fronds make great decoration accents on the final product.
HOW TO COOK RISOTTO?
Risotto is not that hard to cook. The trick is not to soften the rice all the way, until it is too mushy. You have to gauge and test to understand when to stop cooking the rice.
The fennel and garlic is first cooked together in olive oil to bring out the flavors and aromas of the spring vegetables. Next we saute the arborio rice in the oil, until they are translucent. This step is almost to crisp up the rice, and cook it in oil before we start adding the wine and the vegetable stock.
The white wine adds flavor to the final product. It is also used for deglazing the pan with the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. I usually use unsalted vegetable stock, but if you do not find it, be sure to taste the salt in the risotto and add as necessary.
The stock is warmed before adding it in increments to the risotto. The idea is to cook off the liquid, which helps slowly soften the rice, before adding more. The peas are added in, so that they soften as the risotto is cooking.
Parmesan cheese and butter give it the silky and creamy texture. Basil leaves provide the added freshness to the final dish.
Make this risotto as a weeknight meal. It comes together quickly and will be a family favorite.
If you do make this recipe, be sure to tag #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave a comment on this blog post.