15 December 2011

Risotto with caramelized onions and fennel, mascarpone & lemon zest

I don't know about you all, but one of my favorite ways to cook is to just come home in the evening without any plan, open up the fridge and pantry and figure out something to make with ingredients that I have. No trips to the grocery store or market, no checking my cookbooks and favorite recipe websites, nothing. Just an exercise in sheer resourcefulness and creativity. This recipe is the epitome of this technique - totally thrown together with random things that we happened to have on hand. It was delicious with the caramelized sweetness of the onions and fennel, the creaminess of the mascarpone cheese and just a bit of tang from the lemon zest. If you're a risotto lover like me, then you must try it!

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped fennel
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or champagne
4-5 cups vegetable broth, warmed
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Once it is warm, add the onion and fennel. Saute until golden brown and caramelized, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute a couple of minutes more.

2. Add the arborio rice and mix well.

3. Pour in the wine and cook until it is mostly evaporated.

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and gradually pour in the vegetable broth, about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir well after each addition and keep stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding more broth. The entire cooking process should take you about 20-25 minutes.

5. Once the rice is tender, stir in the mascarpone, lemon zest, salt, pepper and parmesan to taste. Serve immediately.


  1. i have a problem with second guessing myself. then i look it up and find my idea is just fine. will try to remedy that soon! i love the ingredients/flavor of this risotto! mmmmmm

  2. Wow, that's a gorgeous risotto! I love risotto, and I'm about to die just thinking of adding mascarpone. Glorious creation!

  3. This sounds so delicious, love your recipe! :)

  4. This sounds very yummy! I have to try it soon!-Mom

  5. I agree - some of the best dishes come from seeing what's in the fridge and from using leftovers. Your risotto is definitely a winner and hard to believe that it was just thrown together. Gorgeous and tasty!

  6. This looks wonderful! I love dishes that are whipped up as you go. I wish I had leftovers in my fridge like you have!

  7. I love both risotto and fennel! Great recipe, it looks delicious and comforting.

  8. Slam dunk :) I think the measure of a good cook is what they can come up with when they see what they have in the fridge to work with! You passed with flying colors!