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Mushrooms and Fennel Fat Rice Paella

mushroom and fennel fat rice paella

This is a mouth-watering vegetarian dish that is crowd friendly.  Serve as a vegan main course or as a side to Chicken with Saffron and Dukkah.

Bonus: the flavors meld and the dish is even better the next day! I use a large cast-iron skillet on my grill to get a smoky flavor. It is like a summer campfire. 

Romantic, with flame-licked edges and a smoke-tinged, crispy top. Mmmmm... No grill? No prob! Easily made in an oven and just as good. 

Most Spanish, Latin, and Italian dishes start with a sofrito. This is part of the delicious broth. Similar to the French mirepoix (fragrant mix of vegetables), this is the base layer. Sofrito is a mix of onions, garlic, and tomatoes and cooked in extra virgin olive oil. Once the sofrito has cooked down, the dish will come together quickly and easily. 

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings


  • Extra virgin olive oil, such as Colavita extra virgin olive oil 
  • 4 shallots, sliced 
  • 1 large leek, white parts only, sliced 
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and sliced thinly 
  • 2 fennel bulbs, sliced (fronds reserved for garnish) 
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeded, soaked in hot water, and roughly chopped or 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder 
  • 6 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 1 can whole tomatoes and their juice, roughly chopped 
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced 
  • 3 teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton) 
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads 
  • Big pinch of crushed red pepper (optional) 
  • 2 cups dry white wine 
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water 
  • 2 cups arborio rice (rice used for risotto) 
  • 15 -ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped 
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives 
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes 
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly sliced into rounds 
  • Kosher salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 


1. Preheat oven to 350°F or preheat grill to medium. 

2. Coat a large saute pan, wok, paella pan, or cast iron skillet generously with oil, and heat over a medium flame. Add shallots, leek, red peppers, and fennel, and cook for 20 minutes until very soft and beginning to brown. 

3. Add anchos and tomatoes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of water has cooked out of the sofrito and the mixture is thick and fragrant. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes until softened. 

4. Push the sofrito to the side of the pan and add a bit more oil. Sauté mushrooms until browned. Combine sofrito and mushrooms. 

5. Add smoked paprika, saffron, crushed red pepper, and wine. 

6. Add rice, broth and stir to combine. (This is the last time you will stir the dish, so make it count!) 

7. Cover with foil or a lid and decrease the heat to medium low. Once the rice is swollen and tender, 20 to 30 minutes, scatter chickpeas, parsley, olives, tomatoes, and lemon slices across the top. If the rice is still firm, you may need to add a bit more liquid, so feel free to drizzle more broth in and continue cooking. 

8. Keep warm until ready to serve.