Celebrating Spring with this vitamin-packed dish does a body good!

Rancho La Puerta

Seeking to whip up easy yet exotic meals without padding those hard-won abs and quads? Try this mouth-watering paella, hailing from the innovative kitchens of the legendary Rancho La Puerta oasis in Baja California, Mexico, a destination that’s been garnering spa and fitness enthusiasts’ accolades for the past six decades. Chef Denise Roa’s dish is hearty enough to satisfy guests’ post-boot-camp hunger pangs, and also packed with nutritious veggies and fortifying grains to keep them on the healthy track.

If this paella’s laundry list leaves you feeling overwhelmed, keep in mind, its ingredients can be adjusted according to seasonality and personal preferences. Chef Roa sometimes spices up the dish with extra poblano and red peppers, and recommends tossing in shrimp for a protein boost. In fact, the dish is fit for even the most novice chef (it’s quite the crowd-pleaser with Rancho La Puerta’s cooking class students)! Roa suggests pairing it with a fresh green salad and glass of sangria for a perfect reward for all of that sprinting and planking. To our health, indeed!

Mushroom Paella
Serves 12

1 Tbs. olive oil
1½ c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped fennel
1 c. chopped poblano peppers
9 artichoke hearts, halved
2 c. chopped oyster mushrooms
1 Tbs. minced garlic
½ c. white wine
1 tsp. saffron
2 c. sundried tomatoes
2 c. quartered zucchini
3 c. faro
7 c. vegetable broth (+1 cup additional)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. shelled fava beans or other seasonal beans
10 green olives
½ c. roasted red pepper, peeled and chopped

1. Heat 15-inch paella pan. Once hot, add olive oil. Add onion and sauté 3 minutes. Add fennel and sauté 1 minute. Add peppers and sauté 3 minutes. Add artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and garlic, sautéing 2-3 minutes.

2. Deglaze with white wine. Add saffron. Stir in sundried tomatoes, zucchini and faro.

3. Add veggie broth and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt. Stir occasionally, and add more liquid if necessary.

4. Cook for 30 minutes until liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in fava beans, olives and roasted red peppers. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes until faro is tender and doubled in size.

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