1/2 tsp fennel seeds
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 bulbs fennel, finely sliced, herby tops reserved
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 risotto bianco (see pg. 130)
2 small dried chillies
4 tbsp good crumbly ricotta (I used ricotta salata)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
parmesan cheese, for grating
Put your fennel seeds into a pestle and mortar and bash up to a powder. Get a wide, hot saucepan, add a couple of splashes of olive oil and fry the garlice until softened, then add the bashed fennel seeds and sliced fennel. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and turn down to a medium-low heat. Place a lid on the pan and cook nice and slowly for around 20 minutes, until the fennel's soft and sweet.
Start the risotto bianco as usual and continue through the recipe until the rice is half cooked. Half-way through Stage 3, stir in the sauted fennel, then keep cooking the risotto until the rice is perfectly cooked.
Bash up the dried chillies in the pestle and mortar until you have a fine powder. At Stage 4, when you add the butter and Parmesan, add the crumbled ricotta and lemon zest. Check the seasoning carefully and balance the flavour with as much lemon juice as you feel it needs to work with the fennel. Divide between your plates, sprinkle over your fennel tops and dust with the ground chilli. Grate over some fresh Parmesan at the table.