The entire fennel plant is used in this recipe, so purchase one with fresh-looking fronds. The bulb adds flavor, while the feathery green fronds finish the dish. The wine is added with a broth to keep more of the wine flavor and balance the licorice hint from the fennel.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fennel bulb, leek, and fennel seeds; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in salt. Cover and cook 12 minutes or until fennel is tender, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Combine broth and wine; bring to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat (mixture will look curdled).
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add orzo to pan; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring mixture frequently until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 17 minutes total). Stir in leek mixture; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, fennel fronds, and pepper.
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This was just ok. I used Wegmans garlic cheese butter, whole wheat orzo and Gouda cheese b/c its all I had on hand. The orzo took almost 30 minutes to cook and the leek/fennel mixture burned after about 6 minutes. The final product was a little bland and just tasted one dimensional. On a positive note this was quite filling, but thats probably b/c i used whole wheat pasta. I served this with a side salad. I would not make this again.
I belong to a CSA and often am faced with the question of what to do with all of the fennel! Since leeks were in the share this week, this recipe was worth a try. I made it exactly as it was stated in the recipe and it was delicious! My husband and I loved it and I will definitely make it again. I usually shy away from risotto recipes because they require so much of my time at the stove, but this orzo risotto cooked up more quickly than most. I recommend saving this recipe to make on a weekend or when you are not working. I served it with Bourbon Smoked Chicken (CL 8/11) and steamed fresh green beans. It was a great meal to have for the first cool August evening of the summer.
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