This vegan fennel risotto is a delight for your tastebuds – the sweetness of caramelised fennel, combined with the saltiness of garlic herb cashews. Simple, but oh so delicious!
Fennel is an aromatic herb with feathery fronds and a swollen bulb that is used as a vegetable. It has a strong flavour of aniseed, which becomes milder when cooked. It’s a vegetable that’s often overlooked in the UK, but popular throughout Mediterranean cuisine. If you want to try cooking with fennel for the first time, this risotto is the perfect place to start!
My mum will tell you she doesn’t like fennel, but she loves this risotto. The distinctive and strong aniseed flavour of fennel is mellowed and transformed by caramelising it in brown sugar.
Cooking the risotto
We usually use our pressure cooker to cook the risotto quicker and easier.
Once you’ve caramelised the onions and fennel, it’s as simple as putting all the other ingredients in, then stirring and sealing the lid. Bring up to pressure and cook for 5 minutes and then let the pressure naturally release.
You can also cook this fennel risotto using the traditional method.
First boil some water to make 3 cups of vegetable stock/broth. Then start with frying the onion and fennel in a deep frying pan. When it’s turned light brown, deglaze by adding the soy sauce and lemon. Then stir in the rice. And then add ladles of vegetable stock gradually over the next 20-30 minutes, letting the rice absorb the liquid each time and stirring well. If you run out of stock, just add more water. When the rice is tender, your risotto is ready.
We don’t often have wine, so developed the perfect substitute for it in our fennel risotto. One part lemon or lime juice to one part soy or tamari sauce makes a substitute that brings more richness and depth of flavour than wine. Do, of course, feel free to add a splash of vegan wine if you fancy!
Garlic & herb cashews
The traditional topping for a risotto is Parmesan, but this vegan risotto is no less indulgent with its topping of cashew nuts, fried with herbs, garlic and salt.
You can make them whilst the risotto cooks, just try and resist the temptation to gobble them all up before the risotto is ready. I warn you, they are seriously tasty!
Another warning! Don’t skip the cashew topping, they are ESSENTIAL to complement and complete this fennel risotto. 🙂
Sunflower seeds are an excellent nut free or more budget friendly alternative for the cashews.
If you’re a risotto fan then, try our Lentil Risotto with Butternut Squash too. It’s protein rich and comforting.
And how about making our Easy Vegan Tiramisu for dessert after this fennel risotto!?
Thanks for visiting Vegan on Board,
Sophie & Paul
Caramelised Fennel Risotto with Herby Garlic Cashews
- 1 bulb fennel
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari for gluten free
- 1 cup risotto rice arborio
- 1 tsp stock powder vegetable bouillon
- 3 cups water (half the amount for pressure cooker method)
- 1/4 cup cashew nuts
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp dried herbs
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Dice the onions, and roughly chop the fennel
- First make your vegetable stock/broth by mixing boiling water with stock powder
- Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and start to fry the onion and fennel
- Add the sugar and a splash of water and continue to fry until the fennel and onion are caramelised and light brown
- Next add the soy sauce and lemon juice
- Then stir in the rice
- Pour in enough of vegetable stock to cover the rice and bring to a simmer
- Gradually add more stock over the next 20-30 minutes, letting the rice absorb the liquid each time and stirring occasionally
- If you run out of stock, just add more water. When the rice is tender, your risotto is ready.
Pressure Cooker Method
- In your pressure cooker, fry the onions and fennel in olive oil.
- Add brown sugar and a splash of water. Cook until the onions and fennel are light brown and caramelised.
- Next, add the rice, soy sauce, lemon juice, water (1 1/2 cups) and stock powder. Stir well.
- Put on the lid, bring up to pressure and cook under high pressure for 5 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.
- While the risotto is cooking, fry the cashews with herbs in olive oil in a small pan
- Stir frequently until brown.
- Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the garlic powder and salt and stir through.