Caramelized Fennel Risotto



60 mins


3 servings

This is a sort of lazy risotto method, so don’t make it in front of your Italian friends (still serve it to them though). You can also dress it up a couple different ways. A little white wine in with the tomatoes will add a nice fruitiness. Or for more richness, add some grated hard cheese with the fennel fronds after you kill the heat. We use Illinois-grown Cahokia White Rice (another Italian blasphemy), but any medium to short grain rice would work (not basmati).


from your CSA Club Share

  • Fennel – 1 head + stalks
  • Tomato – 1 medium
  • Fennel Fronds – 1 handful

from your pantry

  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Oil – ~2 T
  • Rice – 1 c
  • Water – 1 c
  • Salt – 4-6 pinches
  • Soy sauce – 1 t
  • Acid – 1 t
    • I used cherry tomato pickle liquid most recently

larder items


Nothing special for this one!



  1. Thinly slice the fennel bulb and stalks, set aside.
  2. Rough chop the tomato into large chunks, and set aside.
  3. Mince the garlic and set aside with the tomatoes.
  4. Finely chop the fennel fronds and set aside.
  5. Combine the stock and water.


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat, until shimmering. Add the fennel bulb and stalks, and saute until a deep golden brown, ~ 7 min.
  2. Once the fennel is golden, and smaller pieces are just starting to be too dark, add the tomato and garlic. Toss, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cover until tomatoes are softened, ~ 2min.
  3. Uncover and gently smash tomatoes to release the juices. Continue to simmer the tomatoes, stirring the pot every couple of minutes until the tomatoes have all but disappeared, ~ 6 min.
  4. When the tomato liquid is looking some what thickened, add the rice and toast for ~ 3 mins. 
  5. Add the stock and water, mix, cover and bring to a boil, ~ 5 min.
  6. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low. Stir the pot every 5 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom. At about 15 minutes, the liquid should be thickening, and the rice should be nearly cooked all the way through. Add a pinch or two of salt here. If the liquid is looking low but the rice is not cooked, add another ½ c water and continue to cook. It should take ~ 20 min total.
  7. Once the rice is tender and the liquid is thick and creamy, kill the heat and add the fennel fronds (reserving some for garnish), soy sauce, and acid. Taste and adjust for seasoning as needed (likely will need another pinch or two of salt).


Spoon into a wide bowl, and garnish with the remaining fennel fronds.