Brown Rice Risotto with Apple, Fennel and Sage


Cooking is an act of love. And risotto is often a long, laborious act of love. Not that I typically mind it. But this brown rice risotto achieves a similar result with less stirring. And is just as creamy and delicious. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a good, home cooked meal paired with wine?

For the latest installment of my Saturday Night Supper series, I bring you this delightfully crafted brown rice risotto. Perfect for fall, it’s seasoned with sage, fennel, and apple. Then, thickened with a bean puree for a vegan friendly, creamy and hearty risotto.

Brown Rice Risotto

I took a lazy, no stir approach to making this brown rice risotto. Cooking with a little extra liquid, in this case from the vegetables, helps the brown rice grains soften more than usual. It gets close to the risotto texture.

But I still wanted an extra dose of creamy risotto goodness without adding a cheese to this brown rice risotto. Enter: bean puree. It’s the perfect texture, adds a bit of extra protein to the dish, and complements the flavors of the brown rice risotto.

While fennel often has a reputation and association with licorice, fresh fennel is has a milder anise flavor. Here, it’s cooked with apples and onions to bring out the sweetness and soften the flavor. If you love fennel (like I do), you could shave fennel on top to accentuate it’s brightness.

Bailarin Cellars 2016 Chardonnay

To pair with this lovely vegan dinner, I selected a stainless steel and oak fermented chardonnay from Bailarin Cellars. The 2016 Black Knight Chardonnay has hints of fresh pineapple, macadamia nut and creme brulee and tastes of roasted chestnuts and tropical fruit. It’s a bright, acidic and crisp wine with a savory, creamy undertone.

This chardonnay is lovely with this brown rice risotto, the fresh tropical fruit flavors playing off the apple and fennel. While the acidity of the wine cuts through the creamy bean puree. Use it for the risotto to enhance the pairing, or use a cooking wine if you prefer.

Both this brown rice risotto and this chardonnay are excellent choices for a simple, Saturday night dinner party. Or tuck this away for a vegan and vegetarian Thanksgiving option.

Brown Rice Risotto with Apple, Fennel and Sage

An easy, no-stir brown rice risotto with fennel, apple and pureed cannellini beans is perfect for a hearty, stick to your ribs, fall dinner.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 257 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 small bulb fennel, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked short grain brown rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups broth, divided
  • 1 14.5-ounce can cannellini beans
  • 3 ounces grated pecorino cheese (optional)


  1. Heat a dutch oven or large pot over medium low heat.
  2. Add olive oil. When oil is warm, add onions, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. When onions are fragrant and translucent, add apple, fennel and sage. Bring heat to medium high, and cook until apples begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
  4. Then, add brown rice and stir to combine with ingredients and coat evenly with oil. Stir in white wine and let rice absorb some of the liquid. Finally, add 1 1/2 cups broth and stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
  5. Cover dutch oven or pot. Let rice simmer 30 min over low heat.
  6. While rice is cooking, puree cannellini beans with remaining 1/2 cup broth.
  7. Once rice is done cooking, stir in bean puree and pecorino if using. Remove from heat and let sit another 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Seasoned Secret

A dutch oven or pot with a tight fitting lid is key to this brown rice risotto. You want to make sure none of the steam escapes from the cooking rice so that it cooks evenly and steams as it simmers.


Omit the cheese. The pureed beans ensure this brown rice risotto is super creamy and delicious without any dairy.


Serve alongside a roast chicken if you like. Or make it a one pot meal! Simply brown some italian sausage, sage flavored sausage, chicken apple sausage alongside the onions. Then continue cooking as directed.

Check the Fridge

Carrots and celery would be welcome fall addition in this dish. The apple, fennel, and beans are all mild flavors so I would avoid any loud, strongly flavored vegetables like radicchio or turnips. Parsnips or rutabaga are other good root vegetable options.

From Scratch

Make a pot of beans from scratch instead of using canned.


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