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Fennel, English Pea & Zucchini Risotto With Dill and Pancetta

Serves 2–44 cups vegetable stock1 cup water2 tablespoons olive oil½ cup yellow onion, peeled, finely diced2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced¼ cup pancetta, finely chopped1½ cups arborio or carnaroli rice1 cup dry white wine1 teaspoon salt1 fennel bulb, tops cut off, cut into ¼-inch pieces1 cup English peas1 cup zucchini, cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 1 small zucchini)1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped½ cup Parmesan cheeseZest of 1 lemonBlack pepper, freshly ground {pinterest_rich_pins_images} Fennel, English Pea & Zucchini Risotto With Dill and Pancetta {/pinterest_rich_pins_images}

Fennel, English Pea & Zucchini Risotto With Dill and Pancetta

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    Fennel, English Pea & Zucchini Risotto With Dill and Pancetta
  • 2/12
    Pancetta, garlic and onion
  • 3/12
    Arborio rice, white wine and vegetable stock
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    Parmesan cheese, fresh dill, lemon
  • 5/12
    Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet on medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp, about 2 minutes.
  • 6/12
    Add the rice, wine and salt, and stir constantly...
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    ...until the wine is absorbed.
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    Add the fennel, and ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock. Stir slowly and constantly, and let the rice absorb the stock almost completely.
  • 9/12
    Add the peas, and ladle in an additional 1 cup of the hot stock. Keep stirring slowly and constantly until the rice absorbs the stock again almost completely.
  • 10/12
    Add the zucchini and an additional 1 cup of stock.
  • 11/12
    Repeat the process, stirring constantly and adding stock, 1 cup at a time...
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    ...until all of the stock is used, the texture is thick and creamy, and the rice is cooked al dente, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, dill and lemon zest.

Text, photos and food cooked by Michal Martinek

Oct 6, 2015

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Fennel, English Pea & Zucchini Risotto With Dill and Pancetta

Risotto is a classic, porridge-like Italian dish featuring a round, medium-grain rice—arborio and carnaroli are two common varieties—that gets deliciously plump, creamy and starchy by absorbing a hot stock added, one ladle at a time, during the cooking process.

You will use two burners to make risotto—one with a pot of simmering stock, and one where you cook the rice. Risotto requires constant stirring and your complete attention, because you need to monitor how the rice is soaking up the stock and prevent it from sticking or burning.

It’s actually fun and strangely calming. Stirring slowly with a wooden spoon and alternating between a figure eight and clockwise­/counterclockwise circles, for about half an hour you can meditate, daydream, contemplate the state of world affairs, or plan your next vacation.

Meat, fish, vegetables, herbs and cheese can all be added to risotto. Like pasta, it’s a versatile dish that’s ripe for interpretation. I decided on a fennel, pea and zucchini combination because I think the textures and colors sing perfectly together, especially with the pancetta and dill. White wine adds a wonderful layer to risotto, but you can skip it and just use broth.

Risotto is a pain to reheat, as it firms up when cool. If you have any left over, spread it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The next day, you can pan-fry it or reheat in the oven as a risotto cake. 

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  1. Serves 2–4
  2. 4 cups vegetable stock
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. ½ cup yellow onion, peeled, finely diced
  6. 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  7. ¼ cup pancetta, finely chopped
  8. 1½ cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  9. 1 cup dry white wine
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 1 fennel bulb, tops cut off, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  12. 1 cup English peas
  13. 1 cup zucchini, cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 1 small zucchini)
  14. 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
  15. ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  16. Zest of 1 lemon
  17. Black pepper, freshly ground

1

Pour the vegetable stock and the water in a medium-size soup pot, and heat it to a low simmer.

2

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet on medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the pancetta and sauté until crisp, about 2 minutes.

3

Add the rice, wine and salt, and stir constantly, until the wine is absorbed.

4

Add the fennel, and ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock. Stir slowly and constantly, and let the rice absorb the stock almost completely.

5

Add the peas, and ladle in an additional 1 cup of the hot stock. Keep stirring slowly and constantly until the rice absorbs the stock again almost completely.

6

Add the zucchini and an additional 1 cup of stock. Repeat the process, stirring constantly and adding stock, 1 cup at a time, until all of the stock is used, the texture is thick and creamy, and the rice is cooked al dente, about 30–35 minutes.

7

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, dill and lemon zest. Taste for salt and season with black pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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