Golden saffron brings the glamour to this oozy, creamy risotto dish but don't underestimate the fennel! It's fresh, crisp flavour has just a hint of aniseed and, combined with the saffron's sweet, aromatic hit, makes this dish very special!
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Vegetable Stock Pot(ContainsCelery, Sulphites)
Grated Hard Italian Style Cheese(ContainsMilk, Egg)
Cut the leafy fronds from the fennel and keep to one side. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthways. Remove the tough core at the base, then cut into slices about the width of your little finger. Halve, peel and chop the shallot into ½cm chunks. Peel and grate the garlic (or use a garlic press). Remove the top and bottom from the courgette, then cut at an angle into 1cm thick slices. Roughly chop your fennel fronds.
Pour the water (amount specified in the ingredient list) into a saucepan and add the saffron and vegetable stock pot. Bring to the boil on high heat. Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the fennel slices. Cook for 5-7mins, until nicely caramelised and soft enough to eat. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set aside. Wipe out the pan with some kitchen paper (we'll use it again later).
Place a wide-bottomed saucepan on medium heat and add half the butter. Once melted, cook the shallot until soft, 3 mins. Add the garlic. Cook for another minute. Add the rice and stir to make sure it is evenly coated in the garlicky butter.
Add a ladleful of the boiling stock to the rice and stir until the stock is almost absorbed. Add another ladleful of stock, stir again and repeat this process until all of the stock is absorbed by the rice. This should take around 20-25 mins. Tip: When cooked, the risotto should be the consistency of porridge. Taste to make sure the rice is cooked and if it isn't add more water and cook for longer!
Meanwhile, return your frying pan to high heat (no oil). Cook the courgette slices for 3-5 mins on each side. Don't be tempted to turn them too quickly, they need to char and blacken slightly. Pop the courgette slices on a chopping board and allow to cool slightly before cutting in half
Finish the risotto by stirring in the fennel slices and fennel tops, half the hard Italian cheese and the remaining butter. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve in bowls and arrange some of the charred courgette on top. Finish with some peashoots and a final sprinkling of hard Italian cheese.