I made this for family on a getaway in the mountains and it was so satisfying and surprisingly simple to make. Best of all...it took me to beautiful Spain bursting with the delicious flavors of Valencia. I have never been to Valencia but now at least I can say that my taste buds have! Packed with clean carbohydrates, healthy fat and plant-based protein, this is a new favorite in my repertoire. On top of making me want to thrown on a Flamenco dress and burst into dance, there are so many things to love about this dish...
Artichokes are part of the thistle family and are believed to be so rich in health benefits, some even consume it in the form of a tea and extracts. Rich in nutrients including good doses of vitamin C, K, B6, folate, magnesium and potassium, they are also rich in antioxidants and flavonoids credited with lowering inflammation, cholesterol and possibly even blood pressure.
Sweet Bell Peppers are possibly the highest plant sources of Vitamin C on the planet, and high levels of beta-carotene makes them helpful at reducing cellular damage caused by oxidative stress. Their nutrient content increase as they ripen (from green to yellow to orange to red). And they are so colorful and tasty!
Green Peas are at the peak of the season here now and are one of my all-time favorite sources of plant-based protein (1 cup contains nearly 8 grams - which is 8 times more than a cup of spinach!) They are also high in fiber and vitamin C and they add delicious sweetness and color to any dish.
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) have been highlighted on this blog before as they are one of my favorite ingredients for promoting gut health. High in protein and fiber, they contain resistant starch that helps control spikes in blood sugar. Similar to other legumes, they are rich in prebiotic fiber and boast a long list of micronutrients such as manganese, folate, copper, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc potassium, thiamine, B6, selenium, vitamin K, calcium, riboflavin, and more.
8 cups vegetable broth (or sub 4 cups chicken broth and 4 cups filtered water)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups paella rice (or sub Arborio rice)
1 medium onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic
3 TB paella spice mixture (or use a mix of sweet paprika – pepper – turmeric – garlic powder – bay leaf – thyme – saffron, discard bay leaf after cooking)
1 organic red bell pepper, cored and ribs removed, sliced into 1-inch strips
1 organic yellow bell pepper
8 oz (about 2 cups) organic cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (or sub a 15-oz can organic diced tomatoes
1 cup quartered artichokes (I used frozen and rinsed them to thaw)
2 cups chickpeas
1 cup green peas (I used frozen and rinsed to thaw)
Pitted Castelvetrano olives, for garnish
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Fresh lemon wedges
Heat 8 cups of whatever broth/water combo you desire (or have on hand) in a saucepan over medium heat.
Warm the oil in a large sauté pan (or paella pan). Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add bell peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the artichokes, tomatoes, and garlic, stir and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the rice and paella spice and stir together gently until the spice is evenly distributed (you should notice the color becomes more uniform).
Add the heated broth mixture one cup at a time and continue stirring to combine until all the liquid has been added. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is done.
Once the rice is done, turn off the heat and add the chickpeas, green peas and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Serve topped with olives, parsley and fresh lemon wedges...Enjoy!
Pro tip: Leftovers freeze well and can be thawed and reheated in a microwave or in a saucepan with some liquid added.
Missing the fish? Add fish or shellfish of your choice (such as unshelled shrimp, mussels, clams, etc) about 10-15 minutes before time is up. Or simply top with grilled shrimp (a good source of protein and vitamin D) if you are not vegan.
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