Hubert Keller
Chef at Fleur de Lys
San Francisco, CA

Hubert Keller's Vegetarian Philosophy
Fleur de Lys, San Francisco

I am proud of the fact that Fleur de Lys was the first upscale French restaurant in the United States to offer a vegetarian menu. I never imagined how much attention our vegetarian menu would attract and how popular it would become. Since we introduced it in the 1980s, the nation's awareness of the healthfulness of vegetarian food has grown significantly. Over the last two or three years especially, professional chefs have led the way in demonstrating how flavorful and resourceful meatless dishes can be.

The success you can expect from the recipes is directly related to the quality of the produce you use. Always take advantage of the peak growing season and resist making dishes when their star ingredients are not in season. When shopping for ingredients take advantage of the access to the beautiful premium produce, much of it organic, sold at the farmer's markets in this country, the produce is likely to be extra fresh, high quality and raised with care and integrity. One final thought: since these dishes are inexpensive to prepare, I recommend you use whatever you have saved by not buying meat on upgrading the wine to accompany the meal.

Spiced Fava Bean Salad with Fennel and Lentils

Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Cost:  Inexpensive
Time Needed: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Wine Suggestion: A moderately rich balanced Sauvignon Blanc from France or California.

Yield: 4 servings

   1 cup green lentils
   1 small yellow onion
   ¾ cup fava beans, shelled
   1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
   1 celery stalk, finely chopped
   1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
   1 to 2 hot green chiles, seeded and diced
   2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
   2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
   1½ Tablespoons lemon juice
   ½ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
   1½ Tablespoons soy sauce
   ¼ pound mixed baby lettuces
   12 endive leaves Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the lentils under running water and blanch them for one minute (to remove any eventual bitterness). Place the lentils in a saucepan; add 1½ quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add the whole onion. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover up and cook gently for about 20 to 25 minutes (or until tender). After being cooked, drain the lentils out of the cooking liquid and let them cool. Discard the onion. Transfer the cooked lentils into a mixing bowl.

Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain and refresh them under cold running water. Press the beans gently between your thumb and index finger to remove their tough skins. Add the fava beans to the lentils. Also combine the fennel, celery stalk, diced tomato, hot green chilies, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce, salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss together very gently and check the seasoning.

Decoratively arrange the baby lettuces and endive leaves on each plate and garnish with the fava bean, lentil and fennel salad. Chill until you are ready to serve.

Note: This is a simple, elegant recipe, and one that demands no particular technical skills. Just make sure to have the freshest of ingredients.