risella aka tuna risotto

I’ve eaten a version of this since I was little and cook it all the time for my boys. It makes no claims to authenticity but it is delicious and easy and that is enough for me. My Dad first made it in the 1980s on a single burner when we were camping in Spain – I think it was his version of paella but it borrows heavily from risotto. So that’s why it gets its name – risella.

I’ve tinkered with it over the years, obviously. I’ve brightened things up, adding the fennel and salad and raised the bar by using tuna in oil rather than brine.


If tuna isn’t your bag, you can use prawns instead, or serve the risotto with a poached egg, grilled augbergine/eggplant and feta, or pan-fried salmon or chicken.

You can make a speedier version by replacing the rice with orzo pasta. If doing that, cook the tomato sauce for 5-8 minutes before adding the uncooked orzo to the pan for the final 5-7 minutes.


Cooked risella can sit in the fridge for 4 days – reheat until piping hot. You may need to add a little water when you reheat it.

Risella ingredients

(serves 4)

  •  1 large red onion
  • 1 large bulb of fennel
  • 1 tablespoon organic rapeseed/canola or olive oil
  • 2 red peppers (bell peppers)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree/paste
  • 285g (10 ounces) risotto rice, such as Arborio
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (14.5 ounce can) of diced tomatoes, no herbs or salt added
  • 3 x 160g tins (5 ounce cans) of tuna in olive oil or spring water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Fennel salad ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • half a teaspoon each sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional – rocket/arugula, pea shoots or watercress


You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. I receive a small affiliate fee from Amazon if you buy via my link. The products don’t cost you any more. These small fees help me keep creating all the free content I share.

  • chef knife
  • cutting board
  • Microplane zester
  • large deep sided frying pan – I use my Scanpan Chef pan
  • silicone spatula
  • pepper grinder

 To make:

  1. Finely dice the onion and fennel.
  2. Cook the onion and fennel. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium high heat then add the onion and fennel. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft and starting to turn golden.
  3. Prep and cook the garlic and peppers. While the onion and fennel cooks, peel and slice the garlic and dice the peppers. Add the peppers, tomato paste and garlic to the onion and fennel, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice to the vegetables. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the can of tomatoes. Fill the empty tomato can with warm water and add it to the pan then repeat twice (so you add 3 cans of water). Stir. Bring to the boil and then drop the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes, lid off. Stir every 5 minutes and add a little more water if it starts to stick or dries out before the rice is cooked.
  6. Make the fennel salad. While the rice cooks, finely shred the fennel – I use the slicer on my box grater. Toss the slices with the juice and zest of a lemon and salt and pepper. Toss through some greens if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Set aside until you are ready to eat.
  7. Add the drained tuna to the cooked rice. Once the rice is cooked and the risella has the texture of risotto, take the pan off the heat and carefully fold in the drained tuna. Try not to break it up too much.
  8. Taste and adjust. Taste and gradually add red wine vinegar, salt and pepper until you are happy. You may want to add some red pepper flakes and chopped basil or parsley too.
  9. Serve the risella with the salad piled on top or alongside.

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