First up is the fennel and lemon risotto.
Now, I'm not a big risotto fan (overexposure as the veggie option in restaurants), but I have to admit this was delicious. The wine gave it a very strong tang; if you omit it you will have to really make the effort to add more flavour elsewhere. The fennel was lovely and buttery and imparted a flavour that synergised well with the lemon; that scented, fresh flavour that makes this a very summery dish.
I served it as recommended with shaves of parmesan, which I think is a must. My gripe is that without any sides, this wasn't a very big dish. I compensated a bit the second time by adding more rice and stock, and luckily my second fennel bulb was a bit bigger. Oh and I can't stand zesting lemons, but there's really no way around it; it's the zest that adds the real lemony hit.
Overall a very good recipe, one that I would make again if I can be bothered to zest!
Secondly, the cheesy broccoli pasta bake.
I messed around quite a bit with the recipe, making it with the white sauce I usually make and adding some sweetcorn because I didn't think just the broccoli was enough veg. There's nothing much else to say about it really, it's a standard pasta bake. It can be rather bland if the sauce isn't tasty enough, so really make sure there's plenty of garlic, mustard and herbs in there. I even chucked in some old parmesan I had.
I put in the broccoli raw and it cooked just about enough but still a bit crunchy. I like it like that, but if you don't then boil it first. I also added herby breadcrumbs under the cheese topping.
It was ok, but I prefer making my pasta bakes with tomato based sauces.