Risottos have become our weeknight dinner favourite whose leftover batches we turn into next day’s lunches that nurture us and ours.
This one is a beautiful marriage between fennel and roasted cherry tomatoes, and is crowned by the delicious thyme oil it is roasted in.

Heat the oven to 200 C°. Add the cherry tomatoes with vine in an oven proof dish. Cover with thyme, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Use a generous amount of olive oil, as it will be used to top the dish. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until the cherry tomatoes are browned and the juices have mixed with the oil. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down.

Meanwhile crush the fennel seeds in a mortar or blender.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the fennel seeds and the fennel. Cover with a lid and sauté for 20 minutes. Stir regularly and season to taste.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and celery sticks and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sweat for another minute.
Add the rice, turn the heat up and toast for 2 minutes whilst stirring. Add the sherry and mix well. Once the liquid has evaporated slightly, turn the heat back to medium and begin to add the vegetable stock, ladle by ladle, until it has been completely absorbed (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat. Stir in the ghee, the creamy goat cheese, the majority of the Pecorino cheese and the fennel mixture.

To serve, place the risotto in bowls and top with the cherry tomatoes, the thyme oil and a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano.

Serves 4

Olive oil
500g cherry tomatoes on the vine
8 sprigs thyme, stems removed

1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
2 bulbs fennel, trimmed, cubed and green leaves reserved to serve

1 onion, finely chopped
2 green celery sticks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250 g risotto rice
1/2 cup medium sweet sherry
1l vegetable stock

1 tbsp mild soft goat cheese (of the Chavroux type)
1 tbsp ghee
Handful of Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

Salt and pepper, to taste