Tomato + Fennel Risotto

1 tablespoon ghee (or butter, or olive oil)
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 long red chilli, sliced
3 big bulbs fennel – 1 finely sliced, 2 cut into wedges for roasting
4 tomatoes, cut into wedges for roasting
2 cups Arborio rice
4 tablespoons tomato paste – 2 in the base, 2 in the stock
1 cup red wine
1 litre veggie stock
Salt + pepper
Parmesan cheese

Firstly, get your fennel and tomatoes into an oven to roast. I like to roast slowly to release all the juicy sweetness of the veggies and achieve some nice caramelisation.

While the tomato and fennel are roasting, heat some ghee in a large pot. Add in the onions and cook until they’re almost coloured, then add in the sliced fennel, garlic and chilli. Continue cooking the mix until everything is soft and fragrant.

Meanwhile, pop your stock and 2 tablespoons of tomato paste into another saucepan and let it simmer away over a low heat, ready to use in a moment.

Back to the risotto! Next, add in the rice, stirring to coat evenly in all the other flavours and toast off a little. Stir through 2 tablespoons of the tomato paste then it’s in with the wine; continue to stir until the alcohol has cooked off and you’re left with only the beautiful flavour.

One ladle at a time, start to add in the stock, stirring continuously to release the starch in the rice which creates the creaminess of a risotto.

Taste as you go. If you feel you need a little more stock – add some! If you feel the rice is cooked perfectly before the stock is done, stop adding stock! Different rice and different cooking temperatures will affect the absorption of liquid. As the cook it’s up to you to decide when to say when…

Once the rice is al dente, I like to stir through a tablespoon of ghee (or butter) to finish. I find it gives the risotto a lovely decadent mouth feel – so restauranty. Season with plenty of salt and pepper and serve topped with the roasted fennel and tomatoes, shavings of good quality parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.