This particular version of risotto is my mash-up of two Italian recipes, and not an authentic Italian dish.
I was flipping through my Marcella Hazan cookbook, and came across a recipe for la fritedda, a Sicilian combination of peas, favas, fennel, artichokes, and onions. I thought this would be a delicious topping to a classic risotto. Plus, I’ve been on this kick of researching my family history, and we’re Sicilian, so I enjoyed pretending that maybe this was something my ancestors ate. I have no idea if this is the case or not, but I know my grandparents finished their meals with fennel, so let’s go with it.
Marcella, as always, is bossy about the ingredients, warning that you should really use freshly picked young peas, favas, and artichokes, lest you wind up with a weaker version of the dish. I’m inclined to agree with her, but as winter is never ending here and the farmer’s markets have yet to appear, I resorted mostly to the frozen stuff. Sorry Marcella.
I did prep the artichokes myself, though I feel frozen would taste exactly the same in the dish, so that is what I call for in the below recipe. I probably wouldn’t use canned though, I kind of hate that watery, salty liquid they sit in.
Risotto La Fritedda
We’re working with two recipes here, one for the risotto and one for the fritedda. You simply prepare them both and top the risotto with the fritedda.
La Fritedda, adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
½ cup frozen fava beans, thawed
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
½ cup white onion, sliced thin
½ cup fennel, sliced thin, handful of fronds reserved for garnish
¼ cup olive oil
This can be done while making the risotto. Using a large skillet or heavy bottomed pan that can hold all the ingredients, put the onion, olive oil and fennel in and cook on medium low, until translucent.
Once translucent, add in the artichoke hearts and cover the pot tightly. After five minutes, add in the peas and favas and cook another five minutes, tightly covered. You may need to add in small amounts of water to keep everything from sticking.
Taste and correct for salt. Let sit until risotto is ready.
Risotto, from Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
5 cups chicken broth (if you need more, use water)
¼ cup chopped white onion
3 tbsp butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a small pot.
In a large saucepan, melt butter and add onions. Saute until softened but not browned, about five minutes. Stir in the rice and let it toast in the butter and onions for a minute or so. Add wine and cook until absorbed, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes.
Add in ½ cup of broth and stir until absorbed. Then add another ½ cup and stir again until absorbed. Keep going until the rice is creamy and firm to the bite, with no hard white center. It will take about a half hour.
Mix in the Parmesan, top with the fritedda, and serve.