As a teenager I was very lucky to have three special guinea pigs in my life called Pip, Derek and Russell. They lived at my now husband’s house and they used to go crazy for fennel. It was their favourite treat and they would squeek and squeek for more fennel-ey goodness.
Fennel is also good for humans as well as guinea pigs, it is rich in vitamin c and has reportedly be found to help reduce inflammation and even the risk of cancer. It is also high in dietary fibre which promotes digestive health. What a little treasure of a plant fennel is.
Today I’ve used fennel in a Italian dish, where is traditionally used quite a lot and made a tasty risotto. Ideal for coeliacs as risotto is naturally gluten free.
To start I have chopped a whole fennel, as with a carrot I have removed the very bottom of the fennel and also the top stalks and the leafy bits too. Then I chop the fennel first into slices before chopping cross ways to give roughly centimetre length chunks. Also chop half a large white onion and place both into a large frying pan with olive oil.
Once the fennel and onion has soften and cooked add the risotto rice directly into the pan, stir frequently and continue cooking until the rice has turned translucent. Often risotto is cooked with wine. I’ve actually skipped the wine on this occasion as I think it can work just as well with stock and I like the fennel flavour to really come through. When the risotto rice has cooked until translucent pour over boiling stock. As with many of my recipes unless I’m making my own vegetable stock I use Kallo stock cubes as they are gluten and lactose free, vegetarian and they do a low salt stock cube too. Continue to cook adding hot stock and stirring continuously.
The cooking should take approximately 20 minutes from when you first add the stock but with risotto you can cook to taste as some people like an al dente risotto and others like the rice much softer. When cooked and ready to eat I season with a little black pepper. I don’t add salt as even the low salt stock cubes will contain enough salt to season for my taste.
A perfect gluten free, dairy free meal which will please both human and guinea pigs alike!