Lately I have been obsessed with fennel, everything from the aromatic dill-like fronds to the slight anise properties it can bring to a dish have me smitten. I had never worked with fennel before we went to Paris last month, but it was just one of many beautiful local ingredients I became familiar with during our trip. There is just something so gorgeous and complex about this vegetable though that after working with it once, there was no looking back.
We took great pleasure in using exclusively local French produce and at times these ingredients seemed magical. Along with the fennel, we adored the leeks, were blown away by the fresh tarragon and absolutely loved working with the selection of mushrooms – porcini, oysters and rosé champignon de Paris. One of the dishes I continually made to feature the produce was Vegan Fennel Risotto – it’s earthy, wintery, a perfect base to layer flavors on and downright tasty!
Along with all the beautiful produce we featured in our dishes, we also frequently used Maison Pébeyre Truffle Salt from France. I’m so in love with the truffle salt that I even brought a 7-ounce jar of it back with me (about €8, photographed above). My favorite truffle salt is also available on Amazon.com, only in a small 1.7-ounce jar. We also found them at Lafayette Gourmet in Paris. You can also find them at other local gourmet shops in Paris. It’s also pretty tasty in our Vegan Fennel Risotto.
Vegan Fennel Risotto
Yield: 4 servings
- 3 cups vegetable stock + 1 cup hot water (preferably Edward & Sons Not-Chick’n Bouillon)
- 2 tablespoons vegan margarine or olive oil (unsalted)
- ½ large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 6 brussels sprouts, thinly sliced (shaved)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 large shallot, finely diced, about ¼ cup
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1½ cups dry white wine*
- ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon salt or truffle salt*, add more if desired
- ¼ cup frozen peas, thawed
- Fennel’s dill-like fronds, for garnish
- Truffle oil (optional), for garnish
Put the stock and water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to very low heat and hold at a simmer.
Heat the olive oil or margarine in a wide, heavy skillet or a wide, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add fennel for 2 mins, then the garlic and brussels sprouts and sauté until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the rice is completely coated, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until most of the wine has been absorbed by the rice, about 5 minutes.
Add stock (and water), ½ cup at a time, stirring, adding more as each portion is absorbed, for about 15 to 20 minutes until rice is al dente yet creamy. Stir in the peas for 2 to 3 minutes.
Taste now and adjust seasoning as needed (i.e., truffle oil, truffle salt).
Back In Paris
I used leeks, shaved brussels sprouts, rosé champignon de Paris and fresh chopped tarragon in my risotto. You can use any inspirational vegetables in your risotto dish.
Have you tried fennel before and what’s your favorite way to use it? Got a favorite risotto dish?