Gluten-Free Fennel and Sausage Risotto

Yesterday was an awful day at work. (Don’t ask.) And the cold weather that has settled into the area just won’t go away. It’s very disheartening to those of us who live here because we never wanted to be cold again. Add to that the lack of sunlight, and I swear I’ve got a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder developing. Yesterday I was in serious need of some comfort food. Luckily, risotto was already on the menu.

While I was concocting the risotto, I was reminded of why people don’t make it very often. Good god, it takes a lot of time! A lot of stand-over-the-stove-and-stir time. But then it was done, and I took a bite. And I was reminded of why it’s worth the effort.

Gluten-Free Fennel and Sausage Risotto
based on a recipe from
(See? I told you I would find a way to use fennel again!)

Olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and meat crumbled
1 large fennel bulb, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
5 1/2 cups stock or water
1 small onion, diced
1 cup zucchini, finely diced
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 pinch saffron (we were out, so I didn’t use this)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely grated Romano, Parmesan, or Asiago cheese
Chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)

In a large saucepan or pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add sausage and cook over medium heat, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned (about 5 minutes). Remove the sausage from the pan. Add fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned (about 8 minutes). Remove from pan and keep warm, along with the sausage.

In a medium saucepan, bring stock or water to a simmer, and keep warm.

In the large saucepan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add zucchini and onion, season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the rice and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly to coat with the oil. Crumble the saffron into the wine and add it to the rice. Cook, stirring until wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup warm stock and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed between additions.

The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 20 minutes total. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in sausage, fennel, cheese and parsley. Serve immediately. We topped ours with finely sliced green onion and more cheese, of course.

Note: we didn’t have any homemade stock on hand, and it’s really hard to find soy-free commercially made stocks in the grocery stores around here. I used water, and added the zucchini for additional flavor. David will attest to the fact that everything turned out just fine.

About Li

A writer, runner, and Gluten-Free Zealot, I've been helping others navigate the gluten-free lifestyle for many years. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and when you're gluten-free, it's even better!
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