Fennel and Sweet Onion Risotto - a classic combination for the perfect risotto, deliciously caramelized fennel and sweet onion. This risotto is great as a side dish to some protein or enjoy as a main course.
Fennel and Onion Risotto
If there is one rice dish I love it has to be risotto. Even the simplest of ingredients can be turned into a delicious risotto and the flavours in this recipe are so good.
I mean what's not to like? The Sweet aniseed flavour of caramelized Fennel with sweet Cipollini onions, arborio rice all finished off with some shavings of parmesan - yum!!
Best Varieties of Onion for Risotto
Really you can use any type of onion for a risotto. But if you want amazing flavour I recommend going for some of the sweet varieties.
Two of my favourites to use in Risotto are Vidalia or Cipollini and in this risotto I use the latter. Both of these however are not typically found in the UK so which should you use? In the UK there is variety called Supasweet but only typically available for a short period each year, so another best choice after that would just be some shallots instead. Failing that, just use whatever onion is available to you, you will still get that sweet flavour from the fennel too.
Risotto rice is generally an Italian short grain rice, the most popular and easily found is Arborio but other varieties include Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano. You really don't want to use a long grain rice like basmati in risotto as you won't get the same result. Short grain rice has a higher starch content and gives that lovely creamy texture once cooked.
Best stock for Risotto
I tend to use chicken stock for risotto as we prefer the flavour it adds, but vegetable stock is perfectly fine to, especially if you are Vegetarian.
I often make my own homemade stock using a chicken carcass, check out my recipe for Chicken Bone Broth, it adds such an amazing and fresh flavour to any soup, casserole or dish like this risotto.
If you are using stock cubes there are a few things to bare in mind, not all stock cubes are equal. Always ensure you read the label/packaging to see how much stock one cube makes, some make around 190ml while others make over 400ml. Get that wrong and use too much or not enough water to stock cubes and you will have a stock that is either too salty of is lacking flavour.
Can I use Spray Oil?
I prefer to use olive oil in this risotto, you get much better sautéing and flavour from the fennel and onions and really it's not much calories when divided between 4 people.
If you really want to use spray oil to reduce the calories however, then you can totally do that, I recommend using an olive oil spray instead. But do be aware that the best result is using the olive oil .
Can I use a different cheese?
Traditionally risotto is always finished off with a little parmesan or Pecorino Romano - but not everyone likes the flavour. If you don't like parmesan, try with a mature cheddar instead. I don't recommend using a mild cheese, it really won't add any flavour.
Some other cheeses I like in risotto are Gruyére, Fontina or Havarti.
Best pan for cooking risotto
Whenever I cook risotto I prefer to use a large deep frying pan like this All-clad 4 Quart Frying Pan or the one in the picture (can't remember where I picked that one up now, but I think it was Homesense) - a deep frying pan is best to use because it has wide circumference and high sides so you can cook the risotto evenly and reduce down the stock in stages.
Sides for Risotto
There is no reason why you can not enjoy this risotto just as it is, it's perfect on it's own, but if you want to bulk it out to a more filling plate of food then add some side vegetables or you can even add a side of protein like some grilled seasoned chicken or pan fried fish.
For vegetable sides, some of my favourites are:
- Roasted Asparagus
- Roasted French Green Beans
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- Sauted Spinach
- Roasted Broccoli
- or you can also go for a side bowl of salad.
More Risotto Recipes
Looking for some other risotto recipes? Check out these:
- One Pot Spicy Farro Risotto
- Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Tomato Risotto
- Chicken, Red Pepper and Sweetcorn Risotto
- Spicy Prawn and Vegetable Risotto
- Mushroom Risotto
- Chicken, Roasted Red Pepper, Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto with Crumbled Feta
or if you would like more recipe ideas - head on over to the FULL RECIPE INDEX where you will find over 900 delicious recipes and can search by ingredients, course, diet and more.
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- 250g of arborio (risotto) rice
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 large fennel bulb (or 2 small), stalk removed and finely chopped (reserve some of the fronds)
- 2 sweet onions (vidalia) or 4 cipollini onions, chopped *see notes
- 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of Italian Herbs
- 60g of Parmesan cheese -
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- fresh chopped parsley
- salt and black pepper
- Add the olive oil to a large deep frying pan over a medium high heat.
- Once hot add the fennel and onions and fry until softened and golden.
- Add in the garlic and fry for a further minute infuse flavour.
- Add balsamic vinegar and stir until the fennel and onions get lovely caramelization.
- Add the arborio rice and fry for a couple of mins stirring constantly until the rice becomes slightly transparent.
- Keep the stock gently heated on a hob.
- Start gradually adding the stock a few ladles at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before repeating the process of adding more stock until all the stock is absorbed and rice is creamy, but still has a slight bite.
- For the last few ladles of stock, stir in the parmesan cheese until melted.
- Season with a little salt and black pepper to taste, divide among 4 bowls and top with some finely chopped Italian parsley and a few fronds of the fennel.
Please see below for full nutritional info and additional details about recipe:
- Calories - scroll down to nutritional info box
- WW Points and other Slimming or Weight Loss programs - due to plans regularly changing and updating, we recommend calculating with the official tools you get as a member to those plans to ensure accuracy of values.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1 SERVING
Amount Per Serving Calories 356Total Fat 7gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gCholesterol 203mgSodium 744mgCarbohydrates 64gFiber 5gSugar 5gProtein 10g
Nutritional information, values, points etc are an estimate and is to be used for informational purposes only. Ingredients can vary greatly from brand to brand and therefore it would be impossible to give accurate information. It is always advised that you calculate by the ingredients you use.