Fennel & Brown Butter Risotto, Parsley Pesto

I always complain about the time it takes to make risotto, but it’s always worth the time. And this one was no exception, especially since dinner was a team effort. While I stirred away, my dear husband whipped up the delicious parsley pesto topping this beautiful creamy risotto. Swirling in a spoonful of mascarpone cheese at the end gives this risotto a richness above and beyond, and the pesto brings a punch of green and garlic that’s irresistible to a pesto lover like me.

Fennel and Brown Butter Risotto with Parsley Pesto
via small plates & sweet treats

5-6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 fennel bulb, diced
1/2 leek, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parsley pesto (recipe below)
2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese
Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Pour the chicken stock into a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep it warm. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat until the milk solids start to brown on the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Do not burn the butter. Add the fennel, leek, salt, and coriander to the butter. Cook over medium heat until softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir it to make sure it is well coated with the butter, about 1 minute.
Add the white wine and stir, deglazing the bottom of the pan. Add ½ c. of hot chicken stock. Stir and cook over medium heat until the rice has absorbed the stock. Add another ½ c. of stock and continue to cook while stirring. Repeat, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes.
Stir in parsley pesto and mascarpone. Remove from heat. Serve immediately, garnished with shaved Parmesan.

Parsley pesto
Makes 1 cup

1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
2/3 cup fresh parsley, stems removed
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet. Toast them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly golden in color, about 3 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes. Combine the pine nuts, garlic, and parsley in a food processor. Process to a fine powder. Add the Parmesan and salt; pulse to combine. While the machine is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth paste forms.

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