After the fun of the markets, it was back to home-cooked food on Thursday night. With some leftover risotto required for Cindy's Friday night soup plans, we scanned our various recipe books for something delicious sounding. Ken Charney came through with the goods, with an asparagus and fennel concoction. It's nothing too complicated, but the combination of fennel, asparagus and the bite of chilli and pepper made for an enjoyable meal. I've still yet to completely master the risotto cooking technique, meaning the rice ended up a tiny bit crunchier than is ideal, but this still turned out quite successfully.
Asparagus and fennel risotto
1 litre vegetable stock
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped finely
300g asparagus, stemmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 red chilli, chopped finely (with gloves on, if necessary)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup arborio rice
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
Heat the stock in a medium saucepan until it's simmering nicely.
In a bigger saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and fry the onion and fennel for about 5 minutes, until they're soft.
Add the asparagus and cook for another minute or two and then add in the sugar, the chilli and the rice. Stir everything together and raise the heat a little and ladle in about a cup of stock, which should resume simmering almost immediately.
Stir everything together, and keep stirring while the stock simmers away. Once the stock is absorbed, add in another 1/2 cup and keep stirring. Repeat this process until you're almost out of stock. Add in a generous amount of salt and pepper and keep stirring.
Once the last bit of stock has been absorbed, remove the risotto from the heat and stir through the cheese and another dash of pepper if you're feeling adventurous. Serve it up with a pile of salad and a glass of wine.