Salmon and fennel risotto.
Salmon and fennel risotto.

RECIPE: Throwing together a delicious dish from the pantry

I LOVE being able to throw recipes together, especially when I have a few mouths to feed and not much in the fridge. I get great satisfaction from being able to just combine flavours and feel beautifully surprised when they all come together.

This recipe is one of those throw-together dishes that worked a treat. I only had two salmon fillets, a small wedge of pumpkin, one carrot and risotto rice in the pantry and five adults to feed. So a risotto it was.

I always find that when you roast or brown off the vegetables before adding them to the risotto they give you so much more flavour. I was a little indulgent and topped this dish with a huge dollop of mascarpone. I felt it went perfectly.

Salmon and fennel risotto with carrot and pumpkin:

Serves 6-8


2 tbs butter 1 tbs olive oil 2 cups diced pumpkin, peeled and seeded 1 carrot peeled and diced 1/2 brown onion, diced 1 small fennel, trimmed and diced 2 cups risotto rice ½ cup verjuice* About 1½ litres of vegetable or chicken stock 2x180g salmon portions, chopped Salt and pepper zest of ½ lemon Mascarpone and spinach leaves for garnishing


Place the stock in a saucepan and put it on a low heat, bringing it up to a simmer.

Heat the butter and the oil in a saucepan until hot and fry the carrot and the pumpkin until golden but still firm. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the diced onion and fennel and cook for three minutes, pour in the rice and the verjuice and stir until the verjuice has been absorbed by the rice.

Ladle in about one cup of the hot stock, stirring it into the rice until the stock has been absorbed. Continue to ladle in the stock until the rice is just cooked, or still has a bite to it. This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your pot.

Always cook risotto over a moderate temperature, there is no need to boil it. And you want to take your risotto off the heat before it is overcooked. If you have run out of stock and your risotto is not cooked add some more to the pot to heat up.

Once you are happy that your risotto has that bite, add the lightly browned vegetables and the diced salmon with the seasoning and lemon zest.

If the risotto is too thick, add more stock. It should be the consistency of a runny porridge. This is why it is important to turn off the heat when the risotto still has a bite as it will continue to cook and absorb the stock after the heat is off. You may need to add more stock just before you serve so that it doesn't end up a gluggy mess.

Stir a good tablespoon of the mascarpone into the pot and then garnish each of the bowls of risotto with some spinach, mascarpone and fresh fennel fronds. Serve straight away.

*Verjuice is the juice from green grapes and has a beautiful sweetness with a hint of acidity. Available in supermarkets and delicatessens, it is a fantastic addition to this dish and also dressings, marinades and general cooking. Once opened be sure to keep it in the fridge.

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