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Feeding both body and soul

July 14, 2010 |  8:20 am

People visit retreats for many reasons, seeking guidance, rest or refuge from a hectic life. Whatever it is they are hungering for, all of the guests at the Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal in Montecito come away well-fed, thanks to the highly lauded meals of Teresa Fanucchi.

Her recipes, and the dramatic history of the group that employs her, the Los Angeles-based Immaculate Heart Community, inspired "A Place at the Table," a cookbook published last year by Elevated Lab Press. This spiral-bound gem offers seasonal meal plans and some 90 recipes, many based on vegetables, fruit and herbs from the gardens and orchards on the property. They include: ratatouille over soft polenta, watermelon with mint and lime, quinoa lentil salad with tomatoes, chilled yellow squash soup with fresh dill.

Teresa Fanucchi, chef at Immaculate Heart Center for Spiritual Renewal in Montecito, in the dining room of the retreat. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)