08 September 2012

In Season: Cavolo Nero & Fennel Risotto

It is officially Spring!  It started off well but since the weekend it has been a tad chilly, not to mention, wild, windy and wet. The heat pump & the electric blanket have made an encore appearance and the cats have been ensconced  in toasty little spots directly under the heat pump or snuggled in to a blanket. On the bright side it has been quite a treat to get up in daylight, so much easier to get up and be a little enthused about going to the gym, or rather thinking "crap Summer is just around the corner and I need to be getting in to shape", as the last few months seem to have been most definitely feast rather than famine.  Work or pleasure both have been food filled, with Wellington on  Plate , our NZ Food Bloggers Conference on the pleasure side and on the work side a Masterclass with Tourism Australia and Josh Emett…..it's a hard life.

What better way to say goodbye winter and hello spring than with a bright, fresh risotto and a last hurrah for the winter greens before they are usurped by asparagus?

Cavolo Nero & Fennel Risotto, inspired by Martha Goes Green*

Serves 2


3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic , minced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 good pinch chilli flakes
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup Ritzling** or other dry white wine
I tbsp olive oil
Bunch cavolo nero, chopped
Zest & juice of 1 lemon, reserve a little zest to garnish
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus a little extra to garnish
1/ cup pine nuts, toasted
Salt & pepper


Place the stock in a medium sized saucepan and warm gently.  Once warm leave on the lowest heat to keep it warm.  In a large frying pan heat the olive oil over a medium low heat and add the shallot and a pinch of salt.  Sauté for a few minutes until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, fennel and chilli flakes and sauté for a few minutes longer. Add the rice and stir  gently.  Add the Ritzling or other white wine, turn up the heat a little and simmer.  Stir until the wine has been absorbed.

Add a ladle of stock and continue to simmer and stir until almost all absorbed, repeat until all the stock has been used.  It will take around 20 minutes, just enjoy the stirring.   In a separate pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the cavolo nero.  Sauté until for 5-10 minutes until well wilted but still vibrant with a little bite.

Once the rice is almost cooked add the cavolo nero to the rice and gently mix together.  Add the lemon juice, most of the zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the Parmesan.  Remove from the heat and serve topped with pine nuts, lemon zest and a scattering of Parmesan.

*The cutest calendar and if you are inspired check out there little cookbook here.

**Ritzling….this has converted me to Riesling. Quite a feat I reckon as have never liked any Riesling I have ever tasted.  I think it harks back to some horrors back in the early '90s. This however is the perfect little bottle for a Spring aperitif, fresh and light especially with a dash of fresh lime juice.  We were lucky to taste and receive a wee bottle at our NZ Food Blogger Conference in Wellington a couple of weeks ago and I will be having a few on hand for the sunshine that is just around the corner.

Light and creamy, the cavolo nero providing a vitamin filled dose of greens all brightened by the lemon zest.  The pine nuts a lovely sweet crunch and what is not to love about a tangy scattering of Parmegiano Reggiano?

If you like this you might like this Roast Pumpkin, Sage and Brown Butter Risotto



  1. You big schmoozer there with Josh!

    1. Had to be done....seriously handsome & even more seriously charming!

  2. Gorgeous risotto - surprised to realise that, despite my love affair with fennel, for some reason I have never used it in a risotto. Must try.

    Hope you're having a great weekend.

    Sue xo

    1. Thanks Sue....I love anything with fennel too...we are so in synch with our food loves & hates!

  3. Happy Spring to you! This is a lovely dish to enjoy as you welcome spring. Sounds like you've been having fun!

    1. I have! Loving that spring has arrived! After months of winter it is now so exciting going veggie shopping as all the new season produce makes an appearance.

  4. Groan - Risotto, what I would give for a big plate. I think I might have to come up with a low carb option inspired by this since there are some fat fennels and plenty of Cavalo nero in the garden crying out to be eaten.

    1. Oh Julie.....next time you are in Auckland you must come round for a carb laden meal!!!

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